Our obsession with politics sometimes reaches nauseating levels. For instance, as a people, there is literally no critical public discourse that does not involve politics.
Well, the truth is that human beings are political animals that can seldom detach themselves from what politics does to their subsistence. The problem comes when almost everything about life begins to revolve around politics—politics in its crude form.
Currently, there is so much talk about senior officials in some political parties endorsing candidates they feel should lead their parties at the next elections.
It started a few months back with Malawi Congress Party (MCP) vice-president for the Northern Region, Harry Mkandawire, disclosing that the party’s leader Lazarus Chakwera would lead the party at the 2025 presidential polls.
Other senior officials including MCP Deputy Secretary General Catherine Gotani Hara have made similar endorsements, and that has not gone down well with some members of parties in the Tonse Alliance.
Recently, some Democratic Progressive Party officials also indicated that they would prefer former president Peter Mutharika to be the party’s torchbearer at the next presidential election.
Now, after such endorsements, there has been some hullaballoo from those who believe politics must be thrust aside as the country grapples with several challenges such as the present economic squeeze.
That makes sense, especially considering that we still have some three years before we go to the polls. We have little time to waste on trivial politicking at a time we should all concentrate on getting our country back on its feet.
But, in essence, endorsements of this nature have been made before and they do not only happen in political parties. After all, the declarations are simply personal or group opinions that can be challenged through formal processes of choosing leaders.
Regarding MCP, it appears some members of UTM, the main partner in the alliance, are not pleased that the party is already fronting Chakwera when, apparently, they must first agree who should lead the alliance.
That, to me, seems to be some very myopic reasoning on the part of UTM. The writing is clear on the war that MCP is taking a particular path and it is up to UTM to smell the coffee and begin acting in the best interest of its members.
MCP has consistently sent across a message that Chakwera will lead the party at the next presidential election. UTM has consistently argued that it will stick to the agreement which its leader Saulos Chilima and Chakwera apparently made regarding the leadership in the alliance.
The strange thing is that despite all the disclosures that MCP has done regarding the party’s leadership and who should lead it, UTM is stuck with its delusion and pretends its partner’s moves matter less.
There is a little thing UTM needs to be aware of regarding the alliance and whatever agreement Chilima and Chakwera made ahead of the court-sanctioned presidential election.
These two leaders are not bigger than their political parties and cannot usurp the larger powers that the parties have.
Additionally, if at all Chakwera and Chilima indeed signed an agreement regarding who should lead the alliance at the next polls, the pact could just be political—a kind of gentleman’s agreement that cannot be legally binding.
So, if MCP chooses to ignore whatever agreement is or was there between Chilima and Chakwera, UTM must accept that and decide what course of action to take. That is politics.
It will not do the party any good to be issuing statements that they remain committed to the ideals of the alliance when signs are all there that their partners are taking a different path.
Regarding governing the country as an alliance, all good. The alliance came to power as a solid entity and might continue like that to the next election.
About whether someone else will lead the alliance, MCP officials are making their point clear. On their part, whether there will be an alliance or not, Chakwera will take the mantle.
In fact, Chilima is not doing UTM enough good regarding whatever agreement he made with Chakwera. He once talked about disclosing the contents of the pact but went mute afterwards.
There appears to be some kind of disconnect in his party. There will be a time making a crucial decision regarding the party’s political—not governance—position in the alliance will be impractical.
Chakwera’s endorsement, which some MCP officials are making, is a clear sign about the direction the party is taking and no one can fault them for announcing the direction.
It is up to the other parties in the alliance, particularly UTM, as the main partner, to make decisions about the directions they seek to take. The whole thing about any agreement, not legally binding, will leave someone heavily bruised.
Even the endorsements that some Democratic Progressive Party officials are making by fronting Mutharika as the party’s leader at the next elections are their choice. They are not committing any crime and no one should be bothered by the commendations.
Alick Ponje is a features writer at The Times Group. He graduated from the University of Malawi with a bachelor’s degree in education, majoring in literature in English. He believes that quality reporting is critical in bringing positive change in communities. Alick is the Southern Africa Development Community journalist of the year (2020) in the television category. Follow him on Twitter @aponje