“Your worst enemy could be your best friend and your best friend your worst enemy,” Bob Marley, Who the Cap fit Most.
Just on last week’s subject of potential alliances, just how seriously should we take the rumour mill on some speculated potential 2019 election alliances currently flying around?
‘There is no smoke without fire’, the old saying goes. And when you see, for example, opposition People’s Party (PP) members of Parliament dining and wining at State House, it must tickle curiosity.
Ostensibly bitter rivals, when these folks start voting together, too, DPP in Parliament, then you’ve enough reason to believe such political gossip. Much so when, suddenly, on social media, the DPP and PP propaganda machinery start speaking the same language, too. Or, PP legislators start demanding, openly, freedom guarantees for their self-exiled leader.
The apparent loser, once again, is our version of Grand-Old-Party, MCP. As DPP and PP—plus, boy! United Democratic Front (UDF), appear poised to join forces in 2019, it can only prove too much for MCP.
This is a potential formidable an alliance. But can it work beyond the rumour mill.
Then answer is a resounding yes! Joyce Banda, PP’s run-away leader and former president, desperately needs reprieve from the alleged eminent threat of arrest. She has been criss-crossing western capitals since being ejected from power, but we all know east or west, home is best.
In her absence, PP colleagues have openly been flirting with DPP. She can’t stay away forever. She will come back home. But only under some deal. Either to prop up the opposition, or join ranks with government. The latter now appears more plausible.
What is not clear for now, though, is what will JB, as Banda is fondly called, get apart from that. Will she seek a position in government? Will she, like Bakili Muluzi, also bargain for a seat on the table for her son or just be happy with PP officials getting positions?
As Bob Marley reminds us in the opening quote above, there are no permanent friends and foes in politics. What appeared unfathomable a year ago, now increasingly looks a possibility.
Certainly, Tate—as DPP youths call the State President—has no business clinging to an old vendetta against JB. He is also well capable of burying the hatchet, a classic example is how he has rehabilitated Muluzi despite the former president’s sordid relationship with Bingu wa Mutharika.
Beyond Mutharika, the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) is an election-obsessed institution with strategists eager to ask Mutharika to do whatever has to be done, as long as it guarantees victory.
So wither grand alliance—wither South, South, South—an alliance that will consolidate the Southern Region as one block. The premise is regionalism while the intention is guaranteeing DPP victory and, avoiding jail time for some, whether they deserve it or not it.
It bodes ill for Malawians in many ways. Beyond the ethnical connotations of politicians galvanising regional and ethic lines, like the dog who caught the car, DPP has made a mess of its current governing mandate.
But give it to DPP, if DPP succeeds in bringing together both UDF and PP to its corner, which is no crime—that is shrewd politics, at least on surface value—it is also an indictment of failure of MCP, as the other alternative centre of power, to bargain and get itself allies.
At the moment, MCP appears favoured by Malawians as the next government—at least according to a respectable pollster and recent vote in the by-elections—but many have also cautioned it can easily be preyed on by twin ghosts of overconfidence and lack of strategic planning.
It’s a mark of hubris and arrogance if MCP thinks it can do it alone. But presence of Sidik Mia and many rallies held jointly with PP officials in recent past shows that the party is learning and not failing for the same old trappings.
Even if MCP makes alliances with UDF and PP, or one of the parties, the price remains that it will also be, to borrow language of one editorial, romancing the devil.
It’s an election winning strategy on paper, too. When UDF and MCP once allied to form a coalition against a then popular Bingu wa Mutharika-led DPP in 2009, the partnership was easily derided by voters as a coalition of thieves and murderers. Voters, sometimes, are not easily amused.