By the time I wrote this, Jane Ansah was still grappling whether to name the country’s new president.
This has been an election like no other. In its wake, it has shaken the political landscape to one barely believable.
As I write, UTM, the new political kid which had transformed the political map, was not only barely in the presidential and parliamentary race, but already fighting for survival.
Despite its brilliant campaign that propelled the party to number three on the voting tallies; winning votes across the country; the overwhelming endorsement of the urban voters; its leader’s obvious charisma, UTM faces uncertain future.
Not just because it has obviously lost the presidency, but because its voice in Parliament appears will be absent. Even if it wins any seats, they will not be occupied by those high up the party’s food chain.
Chilima did not contesting for parliamentary seat, an act of hubris that will now haunt the party but stalwarts such as running mate Michael Usi, patron Noel Masangwi, General Secretary and one of parliament’s long serving members, Patricia Kaliati, former First Ladies Calista Mutharika and Patricia Dzimbiri, campaign director Luscious Banda, among others, have all been floored in the race for the August House.
But what of UDF? Finally its demise has been pronounced. And if any parties wanted any lessons on how greed and arrogance can finish off a party, if anyone wanted a case study on the perils of turning strong national parties into personal estates of its leaders, UDF, run down by the Muluzi family’s oversized grip, is the answer.
Now not only will the UDF go to Parliament with zero hope of ever winning back the presidency, or indeed, majority of the house, its own poster boy and leader, Atupele Muluzi, has been ousted from the house—losing a seat not any single analyst on earth could have predicted was up for grabs.
This election is a game changer. It has showed, once and for all, that Malawians should not be taken for granted. If this election was a referendum on the ruling DPP and president Peter Mutharika, one can only point to what the majority of the voters have voted against. Mutharika as I wrote this was in a neck to neck fight with MCP’s Lazarus Chakwera, but the combined figures of those who said no to him should send a clear message that the malaise and incompetence of his first term gave many voters sleepless time on prospects of his re-election.
With the 50+1 system of governing elections being rejected by Parliament. Minus the greed and hubris that made UTM and MCP think they could win it all alone, DPP could’ve suffered a humiliating victory.
But the defeats to so many of Mutharika’s henchmen in Cabinet in various parliamentary seats offers an opportunity for change of advisers around the in-coming leader, whether its Mutharika or not. Whatever the case, Malawians have sent a piercing cry for change. Mutharika, if he has won, must drop loyalists who are dead rubber and realise that he can change the status quo, move from polarization to unity, turn the fortunes of the economy, by changing the way he has done his business in the last five years.
If it’s another president coming in, especially if its MCP president Lazarus Chakwera, they must quickly rise above the tribal politics that precipitated their election, assuage fears of those who didn’t vote for them and start a new chapter of genuine servant leadership. But as I wrote this I had no idea who was our new president. But I knew what kind of presidency majority Malawians wanted, even those foolish enough to against their own interests for tribal and other flimsy reasons.