UTM and MCP are developing into unease partners. You see it when little sparks on social media turn the party’s firebrands into action, railing against each other. And we saw it in Karonga where once the campaign for the parliamentary by-elections heated up, pangas—not just vitriol—were unleashed.
The contest between the latest member of Mwalwanda family and Frank Mwenifumbo has historical context that makes the violent campaign and even bloody aftermath understandable.
But that people have been hacked and houses destroyed when the two bitter rivals were vying for supremacy while, ostensibly, representing parties in a governing alliance, is troubling.
It should also get any good-willing Malawians worried. For the failure of the Tonse Alliance, like it or not, just like the failure of its predecessor governments and those to come after it, has implications on the country at large.
Tonse Alliance, apparently, was built on very shaky foundations.
While President Lazarus Chakwera and his deputy Saulos Chilima appear to work enviably well together, their supporters don’t see eye to eye.
This is recipe for disaster. Forget what the two ruling parties might tell you; there is a cancer growing that may end up eating the ruling partnership.
The question really is: How to approach 2025?
We know—and Tonse leaders know, too—that this question, wish as they may, won’t go away. At some point, the two will have to come out clearly on what’s the plan.
The President and his deputy are asking us to look away but their supporters are getting agitated.
But, if the contents of the two parties’agreement are two unsettling, what if they came up with a strategy that limits the friction as witnessed in Karonga? Wouldn’t it make sense that in some parliamentary contests, the two alliance partners should only field one candidate so that the antagonism that we saw in Karonga doesn’t spill over to the running of government?
In Kenya, when Uhuru Kenyatta and William Ruto faced a similar conundrum, they simply merged their two parties, Jubilee Alliance became a party, the Jubilee Movement.
Why can’t Chakwera and Chilima explore the same path? That path, like the very idea of forming an alliance to win the elections, would be threatening to some people who may lose out on positions, but it’s one of the ways to fend off any possible resurgence of the DPP but importantly, for the country, guarantor of some semblance of the much-needed stability in government.
Yet, we also know this, in 2025, whether Number One and Number Two like, we are likely to see a faceoff between MCP and UTM because of the current status of our politics and Constitution, namely the fact that Number Two would have held by then twice the office of vice-presidency and would be barred by the constitution to have another go.
We hear, without ever benefiting from any confirmation from the two alliance partners, that part of the electoral deal answers this puzzle and we can say, without fear or favour, that even at risk of appearing too obsessed with politics, that soon or later, agitation over what these leaders agreed, would be recipe for trouble in paradise.
By attending his deputy’s event, the President showed he was secure enough to send a bold statement that he was going to live up to his promise to empower the office of the Vice-President and govern with Chilima as true partner, not just a junior partner, and, ostensibly, end the long sad history that has turned the Vice presidency into a poisoned chalice and its occupants, endangered species.
Indeed, as both President and Vice-President alluded to at the memorable lecture, there will never be shortage of men and women, idle, opportunistic, lazy, envious, manipulative, who will try to sow discord between the two alumni of Mtendere Boys Secondary School and the college that claim the almighty’s affection than any other.
But whether such vultures succeed or not, depends on the actions and susceptibility of the two men. And cold bloody politics also reminds us that time, regardless of how persuasive the two high priests of Tonse philosophy attempt to shelve the 2025 question—as they again tried during the lecture with their shared condemnation of our obsession with 2025—will demand that the questions over 2025 be answered.
It’s true, we need our leaders focusing on the job at hand. The carnage of our State, plunder of the little resources we have and the erosion of any systems necessary for state building has gone on for quite too long.
We need Chakwera and Chilima’s hands full on the job of rebuilding the country and transforming that eloquent vision they have shared on campaign trail and many a forum since taking office, translated into action.