Sidik Mia’s coming: Will Malawi Congress Party have a soft landing?
Decision-making must, surely, be a soliloquy for, save for the self, nobody really knows what someone is thinking.
After all, constitutional law expert, associate professor Edge Kanyongolo, does not tire to say everyone is entitled to their thoughts, even if the thoughts are criminal, so long as the thoughts are not made known.
Therefore, no one can be prosecuted for thinking because freedom of thought is a human right. As such, thinking must be a special thing, for it to gain such recognition in statutes, as well as international conventions.
However, opportunities or challenges creep in when an individual expresses thoughts loudly. When criminal thoughts are spoken out loud, they have the strength to pave one’s path to jail.
Worse still, when thoughts that are spoken out loud attract the attention of people with negative perceptions, quarrels may ensue.
In favourable situations, though, people may agree to disagree— for everyone is entitled to their thoughts and, when the thoughts are expressed, opinion.
Putting the two case scenarios in perspective, it is a rare thing to get thousands of people agree with you. Not surprisingly, only a special breed can manage to make thousands of people become part of the gravity of the individuals thoughts.
It can be said that the late Gwanda Chakuamba, who was the indisputable political giant of the Lower Shire, had the magic wand to make dance even the most resistant of hearts. When he stood as Mgwirizano Coalition presidential candidate in 1999— which, in short, simply means when he stood on the ticket of the Malawi Congress Party (MCP), buoyed by the support of other politicians who came together under Mgwirizano Coalition— the Lower Shire districts of Chikwawa and Nsanje had one political song on their lips; a song whose chorus was simply Gwanda Chakuamba.
Chakuamba could, surely, make dance the hearts of many in the Lower Shire for, when Chakuamba switched MCP colours for those of the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP), many in the Lower Shire followed him. It was like Gwanda’s heart was their heart.
Along the way, Chakuamba switched party colours again, throwing the blue colours of the DPP to the ground while embracing the orange colours of the People’s Party (PP). He was still followed, although he seemed to be losing his political clout as people could not read his next move.
But, while still great, Chakuamba died, leaving the Lower Shire orphaned and hopeless. What is more? One of the Lower Shire’s political giants, former Cabinet minister Sidik Mia, decided to become politically dormant when he announced his resignation from the PP, the government and active politics, in January 2014.
For the Lower Shire, it was a double dosage of orphanhood, akin to losing a political father and [political] mother.
Evidence that a sense of double orphanhood has of late been prevalent in the Lower Shire air, which is often hot and humid, came to the fore on Saturday, as people turned up in droves to welcome Mia to the MCP.
As early as 10am at Ngabu Sports Ground on Saturday, the atmosphere was pregnant with political anticipation, as people from the Lower Shire and other parts of Malawi descended on the ground to prove themselves right or wrong. Had Mia, surely, joined the MCP?
In the words of Mia himself: “I have joined the Malawi Congress Party because it is the only party that can bail Malawi out of its quagmire.”
Mia added that the current administration of Peter Mutharika has become synonymous with systematic failure in almost every sector of national development.
“Malawi is bleeding,” Mia said, citing shortage of drugs in hospitals, dissatisfaction among workers in the country, among others.
Mia said the bulk of Malawi’s problems are man-made, observing that public officials are stealing money; money that would, otherwise, be used to promote higher education in public universities.
“Most development projects in Malawi were done under [former president, the late] Dr Kamuzu Banda [‘s regime]. The agricultural extension system was up and running then. Therefore, only MCP can bring back Malawi’s lost glory. I have nothing to fear [in joining the MCP) because I never stole a single tambala [from the government],” Mia said.
Mia’s decision to join the MCP means the party has another giant from the Lower Shire, after the demise of Gwanda Chakuamba.
When Chakuamba competed against United Democratic Front (UDF)’s Bakili Muluzi in 1999, the difference was about seven percentage points as Muluzi chalked 2, 106, 790 votes against Chakuamba’s 1, 404, 754.
This was in sharp contrast to 1994, when the United Democratic Front won by about 14 percentage points, getting 996, 353 votes against the UDF’s 1, 404, 754 votes.
Again, in 2004, the difference between the winning candidate and opposition MCP’s John Tembo was about seven percentage points as UDF’s Bingu wa Mutharika got 1, 195, 586 votes against Tembo’s 937, 965 votes.
However, this record was to be shattered in 2009 when the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP), which was formed in 2005 after Bingu wa Mutharika, who had dumped the UDF which had sponsored his candidacy in 2004 — got a record 2, 963, 820 votes against Tembo’s 1, 365, 672. This represents a difference of roughly 36 percentage points, as the DPP got 66.17 percent of the vote against 30.49 percent for the MCP.
In 2014, the DPP, which was unceremoniously booted out of the government— after the then embattled Vice-President Joyce Banda took over from Mutharika, who died on April 5 2012 — got 1, 904, 399 votes (representing 36.4 percent) against 1, 455, 880 (27.8 percent) votes for Lazarus Chakwera, who represented the MCP.
While the DPP defied all odds to displace Joyce Banda’s People’s Party from the hot seat, the presidential results indicate that the DPP had lost 1, 059, 421 of the 2, 963, 820 voters who had voted for it in the 2009 elections.
Mia’s coming would, at best, bring at least 676, 984 people into the reaching range of the MCP, as the 2008 Population and Housing Census indicates that the Lower Shire districts of Chikwawa and Nsanje have a population of 438, 895 and 238, 089 people, although all these are not voters.
Mia expressed interest in rejoining active politics in June this year.
Mia told The Sunday Times at the time that, he was consulting on the issue.
“I have been consulting family, business friends, religious leaders, among others, and, at an appropriate time, I will tell you which party I will join. There is one party that has ideologies and Malawians should look forward to the day I will make the announcement,” he said.
Mia, who has held a number of ministerial positions, asked Malawians who believe in his capabilities to support his ambitions.
Mia joined politics as Chikwawa Nkombezi Member of Parliament in 2004, but took a break from politics after resigning from PP in January 2014.
MCP deputy general secretary, Eisenhower Mkaka, said on Saturday that Mia’s decision was a sign that the party was the only viable option for positive change.
“The decision also tells you that there are a lot of challenges in the country and that people are tired of man-made problems,” Mkaka said.
Mia has joined the MCP at a time the party seems to be making inroads, politically, as, just in May this year, Afrobarometer released findings that indicate that the MCP would win presidential elections if they were conducted at the time of the survey.
Afrobarometer rightfully predicted the results of the May 20 2014 tripartite elections, announcing that the opposition DPP would carry the day.
However, the then ruling PP, led by its leader Joyce Banda, questioned the research findings.
According to the latest Afrobarometer findings, the MCP is likely to win with 32 percent while DPP would come second, registering 27 percent of the votes.
The results further indicate that the UDF would come third, with 11 percent of the votes while the former ruling PP would get 7 percent of the votes.
Government spokesperson, Nicholas Dausi, quickly disputed the findings when they were announced, describing them as “unfair” on the basis that the survey was conducted some time back.
DPP Regional Governor for the South, Charles Mchacha, also discredited the survey results.
“The people who conducted the survey are the same people who do not say anything good about the ruling DPP. You will find that the people who are at the heart of the survey are the very people who provide negative commentary. How can we trust the results? Either way, 2009 is such a long time from now,” Mchacha said in an interview.
At the end of the day, politics is a paradox, being at once a thing of great power and great delicacy. Only time gets to the root of it, unravelling its mysteries.
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