When you hear the whole President Peter Mutharika wadding in the waters of common political gossip to the effect that Lower Shire politician Sidik Mia has bought Malawi Congress Party (MCP) to the tune of K200 million to join it, then you just know that the Big Man at State House has been well rattled.
By its very nature, the political landscape is full of empty and unsubstantiated political bar talk but, at the end of the day, this is below the dignity of the Presidency.
You would think that the gossiping should be left in the hands of Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) regional governors or the loquacious secretary general Gresseder wa Jeffrey, yet we had Mutharika who, at the end of his road trip in Lilongwe, told his audience that MCP has been sold for a price.
Why is he concerned, one would ask? Or if Mia has committed a crime by joining MCP, why does the President not order the Police to arrest him?
The truth of the matter is that the President and the whole DPP establishment are rattled to the bone and they know the political danger Mia and MCP pose to them and their ambition to be voted back to power in 2019.
Look, the President is aware, or somebody has put it to him, that in 2014, Chakwera, then a political new comer heading an impoverished party boggled down by years of underperformance, only lost to him by about 500,000 votes.
This fact alone is enough to make the President get worried. Then put into the mix his administration’s colossal failure as exemplified by, among other things, the President’s own weak leadership, endemic corruption, general incompetence, nepotism and selective application of justice, then you have a man who is cornered like a rat.
Simply put, there is deep panic in the DPP because of Mia’s decision to join MCP. That is why the party wanted to hold parallel rallies in the Lower Shire last week, until somebody pumped sense of possible violence into them, which forced them to cancel the rallies at the eleventh hour.
The panic is written all over the events of this week, including the reshuffle of the Cabinet whose main motive was political.
What is the justification the President has for for example firing technocrat Peter Kumpalume from the Cabinet and, instead, hiring Anna Kachikho— apart from trying to appease the voters of Phalombe for votes in 2019?
Kachikho has ever been in the DPP-run government and she was not extraordinary in any way to deserve any recall to the Cabinet at the expense of Kumpalume, who was making head way in the Ministry of Health despite limited resources and deep-rooted incompetence around him.
What was the motive behind the senseless rotation of the Cabinet when no shaker or game changer has been brought in to make a difference in the lives of Malawians, many of whom live in grinding poverty?
Indeed, until when shall Vice-President Saulos Chilima continue to be sidelined in Cabinet if it is meant to serve Malawians and not the political whims of the President?
Yet on Tuesday, for once, Chilima became the President’s son when Mutharika talked about him in glowing terms.
It is all panic and, who knows, perhaps Chilima could be the proverbial corner stone which was initially rejected by the builder.
If there is nothing between Mutharika and Chilima within the establishment, why is it that, until now, the Vice-President is not in the National Governing Council of the DPP?
In fact, the whole idea that the President could rise and talk about his relationship with Chilima means that it is not healthy in the first place?
Who is it that the President referred to when he said someone was trying to form a Cabinet in his absence when he was coming from the US?
The truth of the matter is that Mutharika is part of a wing of heavyweights in DPP who thrive on sidelining the Vice-President to achieve their own political ambitions in the party.
The President’s new found effusiveness towards his own deputy is his own way of dealing with the psychological blow of the possible loss of his political stronghold in the South.
The man has been soundly rattled and it is good for political competition.
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