So, 2018 comes to a close as it started; quite eventful, especially on the political scene and for the ruling party. The year started on a busy note with the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) smarting from an embarrassing loss in six by-elections held on October 17 2017.
The loss in five of the hotly-contested by-elections where DPP only managed to win Mayani North ward in Dedza was a vote of no confidence in the DPP. Indeed, it was a wake-up call for the party to do some soul-searching and reorganise itself as it entered 2018 if it were to remain relevant to Malawians.
Malawi Congress Party (MCP) swept the three parliamentary seats, two in Lilongwe and one in an erstwhile DPP stronghold-Nsanje-and also won two out three local government elections also in what was until then regarded as a DPP stronghold-Blantyre. Surprisingly it lost in Dedza. But those elections gave a glimpse of what might be the outcome of the 2019 polls. DPP, needless, to say, had to work extremely hard to change the status quo. MCP also did not have to sit on its laurels thinking it would be the same rosy picture come 2019.
But those results no doubt put DPP in panic mode. This was evident from the then party spokesperson Francis Katsaira who from nowhere told Parliament soon after that MCP killed a lot of inmates for Nsanje Prison when the party was in power. Deputy Speaker Esther Mcheka-Chilenje asked Kasaira to bring evidence for his spat on MCP. Ktsaira tendered the so-called evidence to the deputy speaker but a few days later but there was not much to write home about it as the bruised image of DPP from the miserable loss in the October 17 by-elections still loomed large.
In fact, the DPP Government, on whose watch 20 innocent people were killed during the July 21 2011 peaceful marches, had to come with a clean slate to succeed in demonising MCP. Former Anti-Corruption Bureau (ACB) corporate affairs director Issa Njauju was murdered in cold blood under the DPP watch. But in 2018, the DPP-led government showed no willingness to investigate the matter and bring his murderers to book.
The late fourth year Polytechnic student Joseph Chasowa was murdered under the DPP-led government and by people said to have been close to the party. While a postmortem by an independent expert showed Chasowa was bludgeoned to death, the DPP-led government, in 2018, continued to claim that he committed suicide.
In 2018, the DPP-led government also succeeded in frustrating the prosecution of those implicated in the K577 billion Cashgate-reduced to K236 billion. DPP knows some of its members are implicated.
The DPP has also done nothing in 2018 to culprits of the K1.9 billion fuel stabilisation funds from siphoned from the Malawi Energy Regulatory Authority (Mera) and dubiously paid to Admarc allegedly to purchase maize. But I digressed.
Knowing how weak the DPP was after the October 17 2017 loss, the party next step was to frustrate the proposed electoral reforms which, among other things, proposed the 50+1 Bill. The Bill sought to replace the first-past-the-post system of electing a president currently in use. This is against the backdrop that only 36 percent of Malawians voted for President Peter Mutharika in 2014.
In 2018, DPP has been crisscrossing the country, wooing the electorate in panic mode. It has also been flip-flopping on a number of issues-reversing the proposed new fees and fines for the Directorate of Road Traffic and Safety Services as well as the new electricity tariff and lifting the export ban on maize. From all these things, you could not help noticing that the DPP had been shaken to its roots and was applying all the tricks in the book to gain favour from the people and portray itself differently.
Of course, the only thing it failed to do was to quickly avert the electricity blackouts. After acquiring the Aggrekko gensets, the DPP also did nothing to prosecute the ‘watchmen’ who drunk the 4.3 million litres of diesel.
The formation of the UTM Party headed by Vice-President Saulos Chilima in September put DPP in even more panic mode. And as 2018 comes to an end in two days time, DPP whose primaries elections have not been short of controversies, is still the busiest party on the land doing anything it can to win voters.