Whiplash effect of intra-party disputes

Hon Folks, did the MCP convention deliver a credible election?

The question is important because MCP enjoys the status of government-in-waiting and should it emerge victorious in the 2019 presidential race, it’ll not just be the governing party but will also be expected to be the enabler of free, fair and credible subsequent elections at both party and national levels.

It’s reported that there was affirmative action taken to ensure equity in the spread of executive positions across the regions.  Was this done by consensus? We shall tell if no one rushes to challenge the endorsed office bearers in court.

That said, the endorsement was also an ideal tool for bringing in more women in MCP’s politburo. If, in the spirit of the 50-50 campaign, women elevation isn’t an issue at the party level, will it be prioritised when the party is in government? Charity begins at home.

There’s no denying the correlation between gender equality and the enhanced wellness of people at household and national levels.  You just have to look at the gains in the economy and living standards of people in Rwanda, Botswana, Ghana to realise the wonders of having women in the boardroom.

I hope I will be forgiven for accosting MCP on the gender issue. It’s a gateway to poverty reduction and parties, including the governing DPP, haven’t taken this matter seriously in the past. Coincidentally, they’ve also grossly failed to significantly reduce poverty and improve people’s living standards. Why change guards if the newcomer has nothing but “more of the same” to offer?

Back to the issue of credible elections; listening to new broom Eisenhower Mkaka whose voice in MCP got louder when a rift emerged within the NEC elected by a convention in 2013, one would assume all is well in the oldest party on the land.

But there’s a case yet to be resolved in the courts in which estranged MCP secretary general Gustave Kaliwo, Speaker Richard Msowoya and others are questioning the legality of the processes that have yielded the convention and new office bearers.

In a nutshell, the Kaliwo camp argues that Chakwera violated the MCP constitution in the manner he purged the 2014 NEC of some of its duly elected members, replacing them with appointees with whom he went ahead to organise the convention that ushered in new office bearers.

It’s therefore up to the courts to determine whether or not there’s merit in Kaliwo’s declaration that the recently-held MCP convention was illegal. What the current MCP leadership should worry about is the possibility of waking up some day only to discover they’re out in cold.

Beyond that, they should also seriously consider the whiplash effect  allegations that the person who aspires to lead the country next year can’t even uphold a mere party constitution  may have on Chakwera’s chances of amassing votes outside his base.

In 2014 Chakwera garnered 27.8 percent of the votes against the 36.4 percent that went to APM.  For Chakwera to win in 2019, he does not only have to consolidate the gains in his base but he also has to sweep most of the 35.8 percent of the swing votes that lie outside MCP and DPP strongholds.

It’s possible to bank on the unpopularity of the incumbent. Bakili Muluzi whacked Kamuzu in the 1994 presidential race not on the strength of character or personal integrity but by putting his oratorical dexterity to good use, making people see nothing good in Kamuzu while making an empty promise to reduce poverty, develop the economy and improve people’s living standards.  He delivered none!

But latter-day politicians should remember the saying once bitten, twice shy.  In 2019 Malawians would be voting for a president for the sixth time. Character and substance just might matter more next year than ever before.

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