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New movement, same old tactics?

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With Fanwell Kenala Bokosi:

UTM has been formed. For those of us who believe in democracy, the emergence of a new force is ordinarily a good development for Malawi’s polity.

It is also interesting to note that those behind this new entity recommend that this entity remains a movement and not a political party. In other words, it is a coalition of those who are disgruntled with the current political status and do not believe that Democratic Progressive Party (DPP), Malawi Congress Party (MCP), United Democratic Front and the rest of the political parties in Malawi can be trusted to save the country from its present problems which to them are beyond Peter Mutharika (APM) or Lazarus Chakwera’s abilities.

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But the question still looms. Is this UTM truly a vehicle for transformation as those behind it need us to believe? If the idea of it being transformational is at the core of its raison d’etre, then the movement should not shy away from answering hard questions about its added value to the development of the country. For now, beyond the idea of a movement, there has not been any indication yet that the movement is indeed transformational. There are questions that the movement will need to address as soon as possible; otherwise, the movement will make no movement at all in Malawi’s politics.

Let us start with what the Vice-President Saulos Chilima (SKC) stated the other day which I paraphrase as Malawi’s main problem is glorification of individuals. What a brilliant statement that look good on the eye but completely meaningless at close examination. UTM started by being called the “Chilima Movement”. Is that not personification of a movement? Is that the symptom of a people glorifying an individual? If the movement needs to move away from the glorification of individuals, then one would have expected that the use of the term “Chilima Movement” or “SKC Movement” be banned at all its gatherings. The social media was full of people with T-shirts branded SKC, cars with banners that read “SKC”! What a contradiction for a movement that prides itself in not glorifying individuals.

Kamlepo Kalua is famed for uttering the words to the effect that a hyena does not change its spots by moving from one mountain to another. If indeed the movement is transformation, how do we explain the presence of Patricia Kaliati (former DPP director of women), Bon Kalindo (former DPP deputy publicity secretary), Noel Masangwi (Former DPP Member of Parliament – MP), Joseph Chidanti Malunga (Former DPP MP) and Lewis Ngalande (former DPP director of youth) as the face of the movement? These are politicians that have cut their teeth in the current political set-up and have excelled by mastering the tactics of the current politics. Do they now become transformational leaders by simply moving from one political entity to another? If one listens to their campaign message, it is the same, full of political venom and foul-mouthed slogans. The only difference is that these are now targeted at APM and DPP instead of Chakwera and MCP. Tell me, what is transformational about this? They are praise-singers whose only transformation has been the change of the subject of their praises from APM to SKC. Is this the type of transformational leadership we need in Malawi?

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Finally, the document that was released last week about the launch of the movement has two disturbing features in my opinion. These features give me the impression that things have not changed and that the movement is new but the people and the tactics are the same. Did you notice that the document has a face of the Vice- President? Is he the leader of the movement? Or is he the founder of the movement? Does that not add to the glorification of individuals? Secondly, the document is signed by Chidanti Malunga as “publicity secretary”. The question is: When was he given that position? I would have understood if he used the word “interim” but no! He is already the publicity secretary without any elections? What is transformational about this? Is this not the old tactic of the current politics? One would have thought this is one off, no, the other day I noticed that Kaliati was calling herself “secretary general” of the movement. These are tough questions that should not be brushed aside if UTM wants a different fate to United Transport Malawi (UTM) Limited.

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