Hon Folks, it’s a pity that APM’s Sona, delivered in a half-empty House on Friday last week, may have passed without much fanfare. MCP President Lazarus Chakwera, who should’ve given insightful reaction from the other side of the political divide as Leader of Opposition, isn’t even attending Parliament.
Instead, he has joined hands with UTM President Saulos Chilima who won the third highest number of votes in the presidential vote in disputing APM’s mandate in court. As far as Chakwera is concerned, until the leadership crisis is resolved, it’s premature for APM or anyone else for that matter to present to Malawians the State of the Nation (Sona) address.
Does their rejection matter? Well, together Chakwera and Chilima have a following of 60 percent of voters in the May 21, 2019 presidential election!
Which begs the question: if this is not a political crisis as DPP cadres—including party secretary general Greselder Jeffrey, party spokesperson Nicholas Dausi, party director of research Mike Botomani and director of elections Ben Phiri—told a press conference at Parliament in Lilongwe on Tuesday, then what is?
Interestingly, APM himself seems eager to downplay the significance of the damage the disputed presidential elections have caused to the fabric of our society. Had he considered it a significant factor to the state of our nation, he would’ve addressed it in the Sona. Alas, there wasn’t even mention of any measures to foster unity among Malawians in it!
Yet, the political crisis is the reason why a number of countries cancelled their participation in the Malawi International Trade Fair (Mitf) slated for the month of July. I’d also like to believe that political crisis is the reason why the presidential motorcade entered the Capital City through a by-pass when APM was travelling from Blantyre to Lilongwe recently. No reasons were given but observers opine that the diversion was meant to avoid irate mobs that reportedly gathered at several vantage points on APM’s conventional route.
What else if not a political crisis would make APM allege that two opposition leaders were plotting to bomb the Kamuzu Stadium in Blantyre on the day of his inauguration? Wouldn’t it have been necessary to substantiate such a serious allegation or better still, let the law take its course?
Isn’t it a political crisis that made APM claim in the National Assembly that some folks in the Opposition hatched a sinister plot to undermine our hard-won multiparty democracy with the help of hired Al Shabaab mercenaries? It’s a claim the veracity of which was questioned by security experts.
When the first-past-the-post system produced a winner who after being duly sworn in went ahead to appoint a Cabinet only to face rejection by the majority who denied him the votes, that is a political crisis. The banners carried by the mammoth crowds that marched on the streets of Blantyre, Zomba, Lilongwe and Mzuzu cities last week Thursday had two dominant messages: ‘APM must fall’ and [Mec Chairperson Jane] ‘Ansah must fall.’
There’s need to acknowledge not just the prevailing political crisis but also the social crisis emanating from it. Hearts of some people from the South who settled in isolated hotspots in the Centre are going pit-a-pat all the time, fearing being targeted by those who see Southerners as objects of their aversion for DPP. Tolerance is at stake in this crisis.
That said, APM’s Sona presented a richer, three-dimensional approach to development through economic growth and human development than his 2019 manifesto, which placed undue emphasis on developing the economy by cash transfers, distribution of more cement and malata handouts and by constructing more roads and technical colleges.
I get an impression that despite the acrimony that characterised relations among presidential contenders in the run-up to the 2019 race, APM chose not to throw the baby out with the bathwater. It appears the big man was humble enough to take notes on what opposition leaders said regarding wealth generation and good governance.
The Sona had new turns and twists that must’ve sounded strange to the ears of DPP diehards as was attested to by the fact that quite a few of them were lost in the maze.
Probably because they were bored to the core with APM’s calls against corruption, inefficiency and impunity which sounded very much “un-DPP”, quite a few of them slept into slumber thereby reducing further the number of influential people who actively listened to APM’s words of wisdom. What a pity!