The unsettlement in the opposition Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) is quite baffling. For a minute, the DPP had some of us fooled as we felt all was well after party president Peter Mutharika met with some of the aspirants agitating for take-over from Mutharika in what we thought was a path towards reconciliation and more recently when the party and its partner United Democratic Front (UDF) tore into the Tonse Alliance-led administration over its perceived shortcomings during a presser at Nyambadwe and a subsequent rally at Njamba Freedom Park in Blantyre.
Fast forward to the new year and the former governing party would be at it again after Mutharika rebuked some of the party’s aspirants for allegedly using party founder Bingu wa Mutharika’s picture on their posters. It appears the message was targeted at one Kondwani Nankhumwa, who is DPP’s estranged vice president for the Southern Region but, before long, more of the party’s legislators would come out and produce the same.
Come to think of it, there are still some women wearing party cloth bearing the face of Malawi Congress Party founding president Dr Hastings Kamuzu Banda and I would not be surprised if there were still many people donning the Ngwazi’s badge on their lapels. Similarly, I should believe there are still some UDF sympathisers who don T-shirts bearing the face of party founder Bakili Muluzi besides those depicting clasped hands.
It was, therefore, surprising to see Mutharika almost ‘throwing a tantrum’ over such an issue, arguing that, as head of the Mutharika family, he was disappointed to see party officials using Bingu’s face on their posters. But then that is besides the issue. It is high time the former ruling party and its leader learned how to deal with some trivia issues internally as opposed to making a spectacle of each and every matter that crops up. As some have pointed out, it might not necessarily be about party founder Bingu’s face appearing on the poster but rather the source of the poster. I hope you catch my drift?
Right now, the former ruling party should has been making all the necessary noise through its analysis of how the Tonse Alliance-led administration has performed within the first 18 months but sadly, that story has been eclipsed by the constant power struggles and squabbles that have characterised the party since it was beaten at the ballot on June 23 2020 and booted out of government.
One would still welcome, albeit with a pinch of salt, the statement by DPP and APM’s spokesperson Shadric Namalomba in which he points out that things have taken a bad turn under the watch of the Tonse Alliance as nepotism, economic hardships and corruption have flourished within a short time. Without having to remind the former governing party of how equally bad things were under its reign, I personally feel DPP has a point and that the Tonse-led government has to up its game and address the economic strife and the said corruption, which, if left unchecked, would dampen all the other gains recorded thus far in the process of ‘clearing the rubble’ which, I dare say, seems to be going very slowly.
Someone should remind DPP that, as a party that is in opposition, they are an alternative government or ‘government-in-waiting’ but no sane Malawian would want to give a party that is preoccupied with undoing itself through infighting a shot at running government.
Indeed, DPP should be busy pointing out suggestions or strategies that the government can take on board to address some of the challenges being experienced. For instance, people would be interested in hearing about what propositions it can make to perfect the Affordable Inputs Programme, which replaced its Farm Inputs Subsidy Programme, or rampant corruption as opposed to screaming political witch-hunt when those in its ranks are taken into custody to shed light on ‘a few issues’.
What’s in store?
We are slightly over a week old in the new year and we are all eagerly anticipating to hear what the President Lazarus Chakwera-led administration has in store to help contain some of the problems that made life uncomfortable in 2021. The government should not dodge the bullet but grab the bull by its horns and spell out exactly how the turnaround will work. As some people have pointed out, Malawians are ‘too lazy to read; as such, do not direct people to some policies gathering dust on a shelf; actively sell the contents to the people so that it makes sense and you charm them to even lend a helping hand in fulfilling what is spelt out in such documents.
Everyone will have to play a rightful role but, ultimately, all eyes are on Capital Hill to work its magic so that the ‘prosperous’ Malawi (or Malawi okomera tonse as the President often says) is attainable.
Stephen Dakalira is a seasoned Journalist who works as Times Group’s Online and Digital Executive Editor. He is also the Assistant Editor of The Sunday Times Newspaper, and author of Full Circle column which appears in Malawi News; all of these under the Times Group stable.
He has previously worked in key positions for some of Malawi’s key media institutions such as Malawi News Agency, Capital FM Radio and Star Radio (Now Timveni Radio).