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DPP should put in place strategies for 2019 polls

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I had a very fascinating call last week from one Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) supporter who, having said that he had been out of the country, told me that he had heard that I insult President Peter Mutharika and his government on this column. This is far from the truth.

I have high respect for the President and his Cabinet. What I write is usually political analysis, I analyse political issues in the country and nothing is personal.

I respect all political leaders; be it President Mutharika and his Cabinet, Leader of Opposition Lazarus Chakwera and his lieutenants, all leaders of political parties, all religious leaders, our esteemed traditional leaders, leaders of civil society organisations among others.

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I repeat, there is nothing personal when I analyse political issues on this column. This is why, today, I want to dwell on the ruling DPP.

I am sure that the 2019 presidential election will be too close to call; maybe I am right or wrong but that is my prediction.

In case others have forgotten. In 2014, President Mutharika was declared winner after amassing 36 percent of the votes; then came Chakwera on second posit ion with 32 percent of the votes and, on third position, Joyce Banda, who had 28 percent of the votes.

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I should say it here that I was stunned with the poll result. I thought the winner would get over 50 percent of the votes cast but, well, that is what an election is all about; full of surprises.

After all the election, I sat down to analyse why Mutharika beat a sitting president during the election, and why the DPP performed better than the PP and Malawi Congress Party (MCP). I do not have concrete answers but I think the DPP had a very good team of strategists; they read the political script with guts and made good moves for their candidate— in this case Mutharika— to win.

I have in mind Ben Phiri. A lot has been said about him. I know very well that he is a divisive figure in both the DPP and outside the party; it is a fact that he was a divisive figure at State House where he worked as a senior aide to President Mutharika.

I know that the party had a lot of people, party loyalists, who helped bring it back to power after two years of unanticipated opposition but, to me, Ben Phiri stands out. He was probably most the trusted and closest aide to President Mutharika but he had a crucial role in the DPP as well; to ensure that his boss, Mutharika, and the DPP got back to power come May 2014, to ensure that JB and her PP were relegated to the opposition ranks after the election and he achieved what he wanted in collaboration with other party loyalists.

So, when I heard that Phiri had resigned from State House and, consequently, left his crucial role in the party, it came as a shock, a great shock for that matter. I thought the party should have recognised the role phiri, played during the 2014 tripartite elections and probably extend the role for the benefit of the DPP.

We had recent results of a survey by Afrobarometer, a powerful and influential institution, which predicted that Chakwera and MCP would win the elections if they were held just two months ago.

Instead of wasting energy and money closing down the Afrobarometer offices in Zomba on allegations o f tax evasion, the party gurus should have sat down and mapped out strategies on how best to get the best results ever.

The party gurus should bring all the strategists, to ensure not only Mutharika wins the election but he wins comfortably with a 50+1 result, with or without the electoral reforms.

As I indicated earlier, I am not a party loyalist, not yet, but I like commenting on political issues. Therefore, it is up to the DPP to take my advice or leave it.

The DPP should not be carried away just because it is in government. It should know that we are in a democracy, in a very strong democracy for that matter, and one cannot be so sure that they would get power back.

We all remember how the MCP lost the presidential election to the United Democratic Front in 1994, after 30 years in power. Memories are still fresh of how Peter Mutharika beat JB in the 2014 presidential election, despite that Peoples Party had all the resources.

It is possible for Chakwera and the MCP to get back to power after almost 23 years in opposition.

Therefore, the DPP should not leave anything to chance when it comes to elections. Let the party bring together the best cream of strategists in order to compete favourably during the 2019 presidential, parliamentary and local government elections.

Everyone, be it ruling party or opposition supporters, expectan exciting election. They also expect their parties to get well prepared for the polls and that can only be done if political parties are geared for the election.

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