Lessons from Zimbabwe political turmoil
I could not believe that Zimbabwe’s strongman Robert Mugabe could face or rather dance to a political tune in his own country.
He has ruled Zimbabwe with an iron fist, though loved by some sections of Zimbabweans, he has left the country in ruins both economically, politically and socially.
Well, that is not the issue that I want to dwell on today but rather lessons Malawi should learn from the political turmoil following Zimbabwe’s soldiers decision to restrict the old man to his palace and take over the country’s state television and radio.
This turmoil is as a result of lack of intra party democracy. As we are all aware, Grace Mugabe, the wife to Robert, was politically maneuvering to take over the presidency from her husband.
This led to the sacking of the country’s vice president which triggered all this chaos. I am told Grace has fled to Namibia.
A fight for party position in Zanu PF has led to the chaotic scenes in what was known as the bread basket of Africa.
Here in Malawi we had the same scenario.
When Bakili Muluzi, then leader of the United Democratic Front (UDF) decided to handpick Bingu wa Mutharika as the party’s presidential candidate for the 2004 presidential election, we all witnessed how Aleke Banda, Justin Malewezi, Harry Thomson and other powerful party officials quit the UDF.
The different thing in this case with the Zimbabwe one is that Aleke and company did not have the backing of the Malawi Army.
Therefore, after they quit, life went on normally until the unheralded Bingu decided to dump the UDF, the party that sponsored him into power to form his own Democratic Progressive Party (DPP).
This is when the UDF was weakened and I will be surprised to see the party up and running again as was the case before DPP was born.
We all remember how, not so long ago, when Bingu wa Mutharika decided to pick his beloved brother Peter to succeed him, sidelining his vice president Joyce Banda.
We had very nasty party scenes and Joyce Banda was sacked from the party.
The only difference with the Zimbabwe scenario here is that Joyce Banda did not have the backing of the Malawi Army therefore life went on normally.
Everyone remembers the scenes in Peoples Party when Joyce Banda, who never learnt from her own scenario, decided to handpick Sosten Gwengwe as running mate in 2014 elections leaving out Khumbo Kachali, the vice president.
Well, I can go on and on with examples.
The other thing we, Malawians, have to learn from Zimbabwe is that clinging to power for too long spoils what would have been an exciting exit.
Mugabe has been in power since 1980.
If he had left the office long ago, he would have been one of the few respected heads of state of Africa.
But now, he is practically under house arrest. He told Jacob Zuma, the President of South Africa on Wednesday that the soldiers are restricting him to his home.
This is sad.
This could have happened here in Malawi when Bakili wanted to cling to power after the expiry of his two five year mandate expired.
We all remember how he pushed in Parliament for a piece of legislation that would have allowed him to rule for another five year term after the expiry of his 10 year term of office.
After the defeat of the bill, he pushed for an open term bill which would have allowed him to be in office as long as people voted for him.
Thank God, this was as well defeated in Parliament, this was why he handpicked Bingu, a lesser known mortal then, thinking Bakili would be ruling from BCA Hill.
Well, the rest is history but his failure to cling to power has helped him a great deal.
He is now one of the respected statesmen in Africa, he is always abroad on either Commonwealth or Africa Union missions.
Then another issue is that heads of state should always tame the first ladies.
Some first ladies, like Grace, can be a disgrace to the nation and the president.
The way Grace Mugabe publicly showed her hunger for power showed there was something big behind it, maybe she wanted to conceal some bad things that her husband did in office or she just wanted to be nagging and nasty for nothing.
She is to blame for what is happening in Zimbabwe now and what will happen to her aged husband.
I hope Zuma, though facing similar problems in his own country in South Africa, will do something to ease the volatile political situation in Zimbabwe.
Any political turmoil and instability in Zimbabwe would directly affect Malawi, this is why we want the situation in Zimbabwe to be contained as soon as possible.
Lastly, back here at home, I am very happy that President Peter Mutharika has summoned his cabinet today, Friday, to discuss the Electoral Law reforms.
This is commendable because this has been an issue of concern to us, peace loving Malawians.
We all know how Public Affairs Committee (Pac) summoned an urgent meeting on the matter on Wednesday and how some political commentators have been voicing their concern on the issue.
I hope after the cabinet meeting today, the Electoral Law Reform Bill will appear on the order paper in parliament and pass it on time ahead of the 2019 polls.
I know this is all possible because in the past, Malawians have united for a common cause and they cannot allow this bill to divide them anymore.
I always pray for political stability in this country so that people should concentrate of economic activities.
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