Malawi Congress Party (MCP) and People’s Party (PP) share a common headache in the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP). The two opposition parties’ fanciful, if not ludicrous, accusation is that DPP is sponsoring strife within their ranks for its own survival.
MCP’s leadership has been called out by some its chairpersons for favouritism, tribalism and a few other ‘isms’, while PP has faced calls for leadership change after most of the top leadership resigned for one reason or another. And, oh, I forgot, the UDF is not immune to leadership turmoil either, with their finger of blame for a long time pointing in the direction of the DPP.
They can only suspect a third, if financially well-off, force at play, which happens to be the DPP. In their defence, DPP stands to gain from a weakened opposition. Besides that people’s attention would be diverted from its ineptitude to fix the country to concentrate on the travails of the opposition, upheavals in MCP, PP and UDF would present DPP as a model of calm.
But that tranquillity maybe calm before the storm. After all, DPP itself is not affected by the occasional turbulence. There is, for instance, still the outstanding matter of the relationship—or the lack thereof—between President Peter Mutharika and Vice-President Saulos Chilima.
And DPP has yet to prove it has the ability to steer the country in the unpredictable economic condition—enough, you might say, for the party to concentrate its efforts on its problem than poke its nose in other parties’ business.
Granted, DPP is not necessarily beyond such mischief, but if it has really thrown spanners in the works of other parties, its efforts are redundant. None of MCP, PP and UDF needs any encouragement to self-destruct; they are all damaged goods.
PP, for instance, has been a train crash waiting to happen since its chastising defeat in 2014—perhaps more pointedly, since the day their leader, Joyce Banda, turned her back on the party and the country.
It is the way PP has managed transition that will be its undoing than the mischievous hand of DPP. PP lacks stability, which is reflective of the general failure by Malawian political parties to build lasting institutions beyond the personality cults.
Just as PP is dead with JB out, so is UDF with Atupele Muluzi in bed with DPP in a political relationship skewed heavily in favour of the ruling party. DPP probably meddled into this one and is at the core of the rift in the party, but it was UDF that sleepwalked into the cobweb and negotiated a coalition that weakened it.
And for a party that campaigned on the platform of reform in the 2014 elections, MCP is disappointing to confess that the chairpersons standing up to party president, Lazarus Chakwera, were elected in the early 1990 and have never renewed their mandate. At no time has the adage charity begins at home been truer than this. Charming reforms those were.