When the people of Malawi opted for a multiparty system of government in 1993, in fact what they wanted was to legalise opposition to any government in power. This type of opposition was obviously missing in the one-party system of government under Dr. Kamuzu Banda. It is unfortunate that in a multiparty system in Malawi some leadership have been treating the opposition parties as if they are illegal and therefore not welcome in their governments.
The reasons for having opposition parties are very obvious. Apart from being the government in-waiting, they provide checks and balances to the government in power as well as being watchdogs. Therefore, the opposition parties especially in Parliament must be strong and alert to avoid being misled by the government. The opposition parties must see to it that they have relevant manifestos for the majority of the citizens to support them especially during the election time.
If an opposition party is stable, though it might take time to go in government should remain hopeful that one day people will give it a chance to lead the country. Imagine MCP has waited for 26 years and finally it is back into government. MCP is the oldest party in the country and if it was one of the new parties it would have already been disbanded. It just developed a thick skin to all manner of humiliation and remained steadfast. Imagine, some MCP members have been in the party since during Dr. Kamuzu Banda era. Some of the parties such as UDF and Aford which were very strong in 1994 are now a shadow of their original self. Members have been defecting to other parties in large numbers.
What has killed most parties in Malawi is the belief that when a party is in government it is time for its members to eat. This belief has been aggravated by the rampant corruption which takes place in government. Therefore, there is usually an exodus of opposition party members to join the party in government with an aim of sharing the spoils. Their usual reason for defecting that they want to work with government of the day is irrelevant and fake.
DPP has been a formidable party with strong force of supporters as well as Members of Parliament. Surprisingly, they have fallen prey to defection to UTM and MCP soon after Prof Mutharika lost power in the June 2020 elections. At the rate defections are going on in DPP will be depleted of its members and if not checked the party will soon go the UDF way. Defectors will always defend themselves that they have a constitutional right of association.
An advice to parties that receive defectors is that they must not be carried away with these new comers most of whom are just opportunists. If not careful, they might just create problems in the party since they already know that their next thing to do is to defect to another party. Some of them are simply spy masters. Instead of just receiving defectors they must also check the added value of the new comers. The worst thing to do is to give high positions to new comers and leaving out the old, dedicated members. The best is to ask the new comers to try their luck elsewhere.
The whole essence of having a multiparty government is to have alternative views to those from the government after a good debate in parliament based on consultation with the citizens. If the opposition is weak it cannot stand the government and what follows can be another version of one-party state. Therefore, destroying and killing the opposition parties just because of opportunistic people must not be encouraged.