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As it happens

With Madalitso Musa:

ALL SMILES—Ras Chirwa (left) introduces his running mate

The five-day free circus Malawi Electoral Commission (Mec) organised for us came to an interesting end on Friday, and we are still left with a hangover of laughter and disappointment.

For most, discourse was on the choice of running mate and electoral alliances. By the end of the day, of course, some alliances such as the one between UTM and People’s Party were aborted at conception. Quite ironic!

Apart from Malawi Congress Party (MCP) which chose not to be secretive in making the party’s running mate known, the rest of the parties seemed to have been snoring in their tiny-holed conclaves which could not even allow white smoke to pass through. They all waited for the very last minute to unveil their running mates.

The reason parties played hide and seek in making running mates known was simply a matter of playing it safe, knowing what make or break business this one is. And it has been proven that after the running mates were introduced, some parties, almost all, have been left staggering.

Right now, party jingoists have been burdened with an almost impossible job of defending the unattractive and uninspiring cast that will be on the ballot as running mates.

Take it or not, the choices of running mate have been scripted in blunders and it seems like there was a conspiracy of all candidates to go for people who will play dumb and dunce. Sadly, we might as well say, this has been handled with infantile recklessness, middle-aged nonchalance and old-age inanity and ineptitude. What we seem to have conveniently forgotten is that running mate is not just a name for ceremonies but it is someone who will become the country’s vice president. And, God forbid, as it happened in April 2012 this person will have to become president of the country.

The carnival Mec offered us the past week has revealed the rottenness and selfishness that are hallmarks of our politicians. To them, it is not about the country that matters but their personal gains. Lazarus Chakwera of Malawi Congress Party chose Sidik Mia not because he is sure that Mia would be the perfect man to lead the country when Chakwera leaves the stage, Joyce Banda chose Jerry Jana only because she was in a panic mode after her ephemeral romance with UTM ended, Saulos Chilima chose Michael Usi simply because he was the option as time was ticking, Atupele Muluzi chose Frank Mwenifumbo for the sake of gaining political mileage in the Northern Region while Peter Mutharika settled for the little known Everton Chimulirenji— whose academic credentials are even questionable— because, as the big man said, wanted someone who will be limited and confined to delegated roles other than one who will challenge him.

Elsewhere, a deputy president is supposed to be one being groomed for the top job after the term of the incumbent. Take a serious look on the list of the running mates and then ask oneself who among them would become president when time comes.

But come May, regrettably the die is cast and we just have to live with the unfortunate reality that our choices are not about the country but convenience.

By the way, some of us who have clairvoyance might as well tell the nation that some of the people who presented nomination papers are not really in the business and not long, they will go in the business of endorsing others just because they were pushed into contesting.

But for good people and all Malawians of goodwill, let us recline and watch this drama as it happens.

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