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Malawians have spoken

With George Kasakula:

The May 21 Tripartite Elections will go down in history as the most tightly contested since Malawi re-introduced multiparty politics in 1994.

The coming in of Vice- President Saulos Chilima on the field of contestants for the presidency heated up the whole political climate and no one was sure about the outcome.

Chilima’s appeal seemed wide-sweeping but it must have been a cautious thought for those who care about ‘real’ politics because he and his UTM had not been tested anywhere ahead of Tuesday’s elections.

At least, if a political party has participated in an election or even a by-election, it becomes somehow easy to gauge its actual popularity and stronghold—which determine its probability to win.

So, Chilima and his UTM remained unpredictable until after the election when it became clear that he could not get through.

Otherwise, he put up an impressive campaign which, unfortunately, failed to woo the majority of voters to side with him.

What came out very clearly during Tuesday’s election was that Malawians have a way of choosing leaders they seek. You can never predict.

For instance, we have seen giants falling where others thought such results would be complete impossibilities.

Of course, some of these giants who have fallen were evidently imposed on their constituents after they had failed during their respective parties’ primary elections.

That is why, in most cases, it is independent candidates— who rode on the backs of the political parties that had rejected them—who eventually emerged winners.

This should be a wake-up call for political party gurus who have their own preferences for certain positions, against the will of voters.

Voters have starkly indicated that they will not allow any individual or entity to force a candidate on them when they have others in mind whom they believe can serve them better.

The fall of giants also tells us that, perhaps, Malawians are becoming more and more liberal and refuse to be attached to certain politicians and political parties.

It could also tell us that voters are more interested in the capabilities of the candidates and not their political affiliations. At least, this could be the case with members of Parliament (MPs) and ward councillors.

The fall of the giants could also mean that they have not accomplished any tangible development projects in their respective areas such that voters had no reason to give them another go.

It is a strong vote of no confidence exacted during a crucial period in the country’s history.

On the other hand, the fact that Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) and Malawi Congress Party (MCP) scooped most of their respective presidential votes from what have all along been considered their strongholds means Malawians are more inclined to their tribespeople than to national agendas.

DPP got the majority of votes from the so-called Lhomwe Belt and the Southern Region while MCP got the majority of votes from the Central Region.

It was only UTM which appeared to make some statements in all the country’s regions despite that the impact was very minimal.

On the other hand, the Northern Region has been dubbed by some social observers as the most liberal as it did not specifically vote tremendously for a particular candidate.

DPP’s Peter Mutharika, UTM’s Chilima and MCP’s Lazarus Chakwera all got some fair share of the Northern Region votes.

Of course, it could be safe to state that no particular political party can take the region as its stronghold. It once was for Alliance for Democracy (Aford) during the time of Chakufwa Chihana before it became any party’s fold.

Aford has now been decimated and seems to be on its way out of Malawi’s politics.

But all in all, Malawians have made important statements about those they want to lead them. What remains now is how these leaders will serve them in the next five years.

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