Publicity secretary of the Political Science Association Andrew Mpesi analyses the implications of the fallout of MCP president Lazarus Chakwera and Lovemore Munlo. Mpesi shares his thoughts with Jacob Jimu.
It appears all is not well in MCP following the fallout between Lovemore Munlo and President Lazarus Chakwera. What is your interpretation of the events?
Politics is about power and how that power is obtained, used, shared or delegated in a political party is called intra-party politics. It is normal to experience such things in party politics. Nevertheless, intra-party politics is in two dimensions; processes and outcomes. The current situation is that Chakwera has political power over Munlo following his victory at the party convention; as such, the behaviour of Munlo can be explained by answering the following questions: does he believe in the process which gave Chakwera the political power that Munlo also wanted to be free and fair? Does Munlo think Chakwera is the right outcome from the party convention?
Why do you think Munlo is coming out now when the issue of NEC positions happened some months ago?
This is power play. The realism of political power dictates that it cannot be shared; it can only be delegated. Munlo wants Chakwera to share power but it appears Chakwera is not prepared even to delegate that power to Munlo. Chakwera could be working at consolidating his power and Munlo may not be a variable in the equation. Secondly, Munlo appears to be bargaining for political recognition but the use of megaphone diplomacy may not help, particularly when dealing with centre-right philosophically oriented MCP.
Third, Munlo could be a clever and rational political player who might have seen that; (a) Chakwera has higher chances of winning elections and wants to book his seat in advance; (b) Chakwera may not win the elections and Munlo could be strategising to unseat him at the next party convention; (c) his political intelligence might have discovered that Chakwera is not considering him as running mate; (d) his allegiance to MCP has evaporated and doesn’t care whether the party wins or flops in the coming elections.
Are there things Chakwera and Munlo could have done better to avoid such unseemly scenario?
They could have done political bargaining but political bargaining only happens if politicians realise the levels of each other’s political capital. There are two factors to consider; (a) Chakwera is the leader of the party and his political capital is well defined; (b) Munlo is just a member of the party whose political capital may not be properly defined. It is apparent that Chakwera has more bargaining power than Munlo, but whether either Chakwera or Munlo see it that way is another subject.
On the surface, Munlo accuses Chakwera of belittling him by; offering him a NEC position during the second selection which he declined; not sending invitations to political rallies and functions; not asking him to contest as MP for MCP. Nevertheless, there are some members of MCP who ran against Chakwera at the convention and are now in NEC and have also gone through party primaries. Examples include: Felix Jumbe who got the position of campaign director in the second selection but also went through constituency primaries and won; Lyton Dzombe is not in the MCP NEC but competed in primaries and won; Joseph Njovuyalema is deputy campaign director and also won primaries in his constituency; Makala Ngozo is not a member of NEC but won primaries in his constituency. Did Chakwera ask these politicians to run in party primaries? Does Chakwera send special invitations to these guys to attend his rallies?
For the MCP, what does this mean in terms of May 20 and beyond? Is it unravelling of the Chakwera magic?
This is very tricky for MCP because Chakwera is the trump card for the May 20 elections and once Chakwera’s political capital is compromised then MCP might not find it easy. MCP could have two challenges at the moment; (a) those who may not be sure whether they could be part of government if Chakwera wins and are likely to work against him; (b) new entrants who think the old guard are using the same old tricks. What is more important for MCP is to be forwarding looking. Not everybody may like Chakwera’s leadership style, but the leadership should embrace inclusivity with the purpose to win elections and deliver an effective government. Inclusivity ought not to be physical. MCP needs inclusivity of ideas that aim at achieving the desired goals.