2012 will go down in history as a year which gave Malawians another grand opportunity to witness how some politicians prioritise their personal happiness and jump in all corners in search of opportunities at the expense of the national good.
It was the year when, immediately power shifted into the hands of incumbent President Joyce Banda, most politicians in almost all parties hunted for opportunities to get closer to the new President and explore possibilities of sharing ‘ the goodies’.
Several politicians threw themselves at the feet of Banda hoping to be included in the hinted government of national Unity (GNU).
Even the country’s longest serving parliamentarian, Malawi Congress Party (MCP) president and Leader of Opposition John Zenus Ungapake Tembo joined the bandwagon of those searching for the best possible stake in government after the abrupt change of administration.
With Banda’s initial hint to form a GNU to help her finish late president Bingu wa Mutharika’s last term of office, Tembo, as analysts would have it, apparently saw an opportunity to become the country’s second vice-president.
Tembo met Banda in one of her early presidential audiences with politicians even before Mutharika’s body was buried at Ndata Farm on April 23.
According to insiders, Tembo hit the nail on its head. He expressed interest to be considered for the post of the country’s second vice-president.
He reportedly gave this as a condition for his participation in the GNU.
This was followed by a series of actions and sentiments by the MCP leader which outwardly pointed to his interest and waiting for the appointment to the third top most job in the Executive.
In 2012, Tembo is on record to have initially said there is nothing to oppose in the Banda administration and that the President was getting everything right.
Of course, Tembo’s argument was that Banda had inherited the mess which was created by the former ruling Democrartic Progressive Party (DPP); hence, the blame for all social, economic and governance ills the country has been facing needed to be channelled to the late Mutharika and his now opposition DPP.
However, this surprised several activists who said they expected the Leader of Opposition to be the last person to utter such remarks.
The commentators said the remarks were a threat to the country’s democracy as they had the potential to kill the voice of the opposition in the Legislature which is crucial to ensuring sufficient checks and balances on the Executive.
At the climax of it all during the year, the MCP leader also joined those seeing off and shaking hands with Banda at the airport just to say bye in her external travels.
Seeing Tembo at Kamuzu International Airport (KIA) waiting to welcome the President from abroad was a rare and interesting change which largely prompted thoughts that the man was seemingly repositioning himself and indeed eyeing something.
It did not end there. During the year, Tembo also converged all MCP Members of Parliament on his Area 10 residence in Lilongwe and updated them that he was still waiting for a word from Banda on his possible appointment as Malawi’s second vice president.
According to some MPs who attended the gathering, Tembo also told them that he would pick about four MCP MPs to go with him into government.
They reported that their leader told them that he was therefore closely watching the conduct of all his MPs as he is the one who was going to choose which MPs to take into government.
The MPs said the message was meant to caution them on their level of criticism against Banda’s administration in Parliament. All this connected to Tembo’s waiting for the secondvice-presidency.
Those who opposed the possible appointment of the second vice-president argued the appointment was not necessary and not compatible with obtaining economic realities in Malawi.
They worried that the appointment would just end up draining the country’s already limited resources as, apart from the salary, the second vice-president would also be entitled to other benefits like motorcade which would require a good budget.
We are in 2013, Tembo is still the Leader of Opposition. He has not yet been appointed the country’s second vice-president. His efforts and waiting for the appointment, if at all he was, can at least for now be looked at as fruitless.