Former preacher, Lazarus Chakwera became the first person in the history of this country to present nomination papers for presidential elections within a year. Others, including APM also presented their papers to Malawi Electoral Commission (MEC) on Wednesday and Thursday.
The July 2 election as ordered by the Constitutional Court is historical as it comes after another vote which was marred by irregularities and eventually annulled on February 3 this year.
The July 2 poll offers Malawians a window of opportunity to correct the wrongs of the past five years under the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP). It is the dawn of a new era many wait with pregnant expectation.
What stood out of the nomination process on Wednesday and Thursday in Blantyre is the alliances. Governing DPP has partnered United Democratic Front (UDF) while Chakwera’s Malawi Congress Party (MCP) has ganged up with UTM Party of Vice-President Saulosi and a litany of other small parties to form Tonse Alliance.
The word sacrifice was on people’s lips when Chakwera unveiled Chilima as runningmate. But is it true that Chilima sacrificed his dream of leading the country to join hands with MCP? We do not think so. Chilima only playing his cards right. He reads the scriptures well: “anyone who is among the living has hope—even a live dog is better off than a dead lion.”
That aside, the partnership between Chakwera and Chilima is so strong that Peter Mutharika and his runningmate will be sweating all the way to the polling day.
MCP and UTM bring with them over 2.5 million registered voters. And together they have united the North, Centre and part of the Southern Region (Ntcheu, Balaka, Machinga and Mangochi). This fact, you cannot take away from them. Even the Economist Intelligence Unit last month predicted in its forecast that Lazarus Chakwera stands a better chance to win this May 19 delayed fresh presidential election than the incumbent.
Mutharika has been left to hold on to his stronghold; Southern and Eastern regions which are shrinking each passing day. Not only is Mutharika so isolated, but his party is deeply divided that instead of campaign for him, the youths are battling each other on social media.
The two camps—the Chisale Camp and Bingu Camp in the party will not help matters. While those in former group are allegedly getting fatter each passing day and will do anything to keep the old man at Plot Number One, those who follow Bingu’s DPP are allegedly languishing in poverty. And word on the street is that these individuals—who claim Peter has abandoned them—are even excited to see Peter and his wife booted out of State House! Things are falling apart in DPP and the pillar of the party (APM) cannot hold it together.
While in MCP supporters can afford to sleep soundly and take comfort in the fact that they have a leader who has the support of the masses.
When Chakwera took over the MCP in 2013, he found a broken party—heavily divided by Bakili Muluzi’s divisive politics. But he has built it to the level of being the people’s first choice and winning seats in the Southern Region where for over 20 years, MCP was as good as dead.
Chakwera’s speech delivered at Mount Soche on Wednesday was also historical. It gives hope not only to the MCP-UTM alliance supporters, but to all Malawians who want change.
He was dead right that when he said political parties and leaders have forged enmities that their followers have had disputes so bitter that it has become impossible to find common ground. Chakwera is also right that Malawi’s past vice-presidents have been mistreated, underutilised, harassed, and slandered.
He has promised to tear down these walls and build the bridges needed to unite Malawians. “That,” he said “is destiny.”
So when he is elected president, will he walk this talk? Word on the street is that in Chakwera, Malawi has found a new leader and perhaps it is time we gave him a chance to lead.