Winners and losers
It has been a hectic couple of weeks, both here at home and further abroad. In the United States, Senator Kamala Harris was turning heads for breaking the ceiling by becoming the first female vice president of the US. But that was not the only highlight from the American election. People were intrigued with the suspense hanging in the air due to the uncertainty of who would come out victor between incumbent President Donald Trump and his challenger, Joe Biden; the man Trump had christened ‘sleepy Joe’ in the course of their political debates leading up to the poll exercise.
When it became evident that Trump was losing ground against the opposition’s trump-card Biden, the beleaguered US leader cried foul, claiming vote rigging had occurred in certain states but surprisingly he was not bringing forth evidence. One after the other, the courts in the said states began dismissing his suits but we are yet to see whether he has any solid ground as he mounts his ‘serious challenge’ at the Supreme Court in that country. Anything is possible until we have the final word from the US electoral authorities, so we will leave it there for now. Just one more; I certainly had a kick when I saw one of the international papers, The Sunday Times, run a headline that said ‘Sleepy Joe wakes up America’. Certainly, January 20 next year will be an exciting day for the Americans, as they will get to meet the ‘real’ tenant of the White House after the election.
Back home, this past Tuesday, we witnessed by-elections in the three districts of Lilongwe, Thyolo and Karonga, in what many viewed as a litmus test for the Tonse Alliance, especially the lead partners Malawi Congress Party and UTM who engaged in a ‘dog eat dog’ fight in Karonga Central Constituency. You would be forgiven if, for a moment, you were to think that the two parties were sworn rivals owing to the way they mounted their campaign in Karonga Central, which is nicknamed ‘Benghazi’ for obvious reasons. It was not surprising to hear Malawi Electoral Commission threatening to pull the plug on the polls in the area due to the escalating violence But now that is all water under the bridge since the electorate have made known their choice of who they want to represent them in Parliament, in the case of Karonga Central and Lilongwe North West constituencies, and Councillor for Chikwawa’s Makhwira South Ward.
The two parties now have a huge task of convincing Malawians that all the animosity displayed in the course of the campaign before the by-elections, both on and off the ground, was just part of the game and they are still as thick as a pack of wolves.
It is the behaviour that is displayed in the aftermath of an election that separates real men from boys. In the US scenario, president Trump cannot just leave with the fact that he was probably beaten fair and square by sleepy Joe’ at the ballot, which best explains why he is still raising alert flags in some states. I would not want to come across as being judgemental since America has laws that it abides by and I am pretty sure that the men and women in the ‘land of opportunity’ will do everything in their power to uphold their constitution; whether it is Trump again at the driving seat or ‘sleepy Joe’ but as it stands, in my view, Biden’s moment of reckoning is looming. The sooner President Trump accepts that, the better.
Again, let us bring it closer home. Until this day, former president Peter Mutharika is living in denial that a new government was chosen at the ballot and he is not the tenant at House Number One; but that has not stopped the country from moving on. That is a lesson to the incumbent American President who, if not careful, might be left standing all alone when January 20 strikes. Accepting defeat is not in any way a show of weakness. When Malawi held its first democratic election on May 17, 1994, the country’s founding president late Hastings Kamuzu Banda (God rest his soul) did not wait until the electoral authorities had counted the last ballot to determine the winner. Instead, he read the pattern and realised that United Democratic Front’s candidate, former president Bakili Muluzi, was running with it and Kamuzu came out publicly to acknowledge that Muluzi was the man to take over the mantle and he congratulated him.
I can only hope that all the candidates that competed in Tuesday’s by-elections and did not carry the day have already extended hearty congratulations to those that have come out victorious. Do not be sore losers like Trump. You get to live another day, win or lose.
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).