As it were, from February 4 to 8 2019 the Malawi Electoral Commission (MEC) was receiving nomination papers for all candidates for the May 21 2019 Tripartite Elections. This included presidential candidates and their running mates.
As it is well known, presidential candidates of political parties are elected at the party convention while the choice of the running mate is a prerogative of the presidential candidate.
For the sake of winning the election, party members look forward to a credible choice of a running mate who should be a good alternative to the president, not a mere puppet. Therefore, there has been great expectations in the country for the revealing of running mates. Surprisingly, for reasons best known to themselves, most of the presidential candidates, with the exception of Lazarus Chakwera of MCP, revealing of a running mate was a closely guarded secret. MCP was well organised and Chakwera unveiled his running mate, Sidik Mia, some months ago.
It can be said that delaying to unveil a running mate is a sign of indecisiveness, which is a weakness on part of the presidential candidate. The delay also created a lot of speculations as some party executive members weighed their chances. Obviously, the waiting was very frustrating. As the day for presenting nomination papers finally came, all eyes were fixed on who was the running mate. Unfortunately, this was an anti-climax. Most of the running mates were not impressive at all and it is doubtful that they can bring any added advantage. Most people might be wondering why presidential candidates kept such people as a secret surprise? Just imagine, did UDF need an outsider as a running mate when the party has a lot of senior and dedicated members such as Hon Lilian Patel and others? With the background of Aford, it is very doubtful that Hon Frank Mwenifumbo, as Muluzi’s running mate, will bring more votes. In fact, picking an outsider as running mate is like punishing the party members because of some hidden grudges.
Meanwhile, the most surprising choice of a running mate was/is by President Peter Mutharika who has gone for the little known Hon Evertone Chimulirenji. There were media reports that after presenting his nomination papers, the Mutharika met DPP candidates at Sanjika Palace. It was at this meeting where he was quoted as saying some Cabinet members are crooks, power-hungry, scandalous and childish. Probably this is the reason he did not choose them as running mate.
If, indeed, the president publicly disgraced his Cabinet members, he should know that this will soon backfire on him. Without doubt, he will soon need the same Cabinet ministers to help him during campaign. He must realise that campaign cannot be done just by him and his running mate. With all due respect, his running mate is not well known nationwide compared to some senior Cabinet ministers.
One cannot be completely wrong to suggest that the delay in coming up with running mate is likely due to the fact that presidents hate the idea of having a deputy. Therefore, they had to take time looking for puppets or ‘yes bwanas’. What is needed is that the presidential candidate and his running mate must be equal in all spheres to complement well in serving the country. This habit of having a President who goes outside the country and fails to handover power to his deputy must come to a stop. Malawi is not a personal property of a President.
Due to lack of impressive running mates, the relation between the President and his deputy will continue to be sour. n