Déjà vu…The Tonse Alliance government, unlike any of its predecessors, runs on a very fragile mandate. Not that it did not receive overwhelming vote, it did. Not that it doesn’t have goodwill of the public, it does. But Tonse Alliance has no one constituency, but is a coalition of loyal bases and fiercely independent and idealistic nation-first supporters.
Thanks to 50+1, any political grouping that wants to govern us, since the day the famous five hammered their seismic judgement, the political calculations of the past no longer hold.
That world no longer exists. It ended with Jane Ansah’s capitulation.
For Tonse Alliance to win the last election, it had to undergo painstaking alliance formation but, also, win hearts and souls on the street, in court, and on the ballot.
Many a big man (and, indeed, they are mostly men) gave up—mostly shelved—their aspirations for certain offices to ensure that the so-called mighty Democratic Progressive Party (DPP)—a party that had come to symbolise executive arrogance, cronyism and abuse of office, was booted out of town.
But also many a voter, made peace with the fact that Lazarus Chakwera was the only one deserving their vote, even though they could have preferred someone else as President.
They all made sacrifices, for the country to change the direction. To stop the hemorrhaging of the State. And give back hope to the millions walloping in poverty and disillusioned by the stagnation and decay in all fabrics of public life.
It was an uneasy alliance from the start and it remains uneasy partnership to date; it’s not an alliance that requires no second invitation to turn acrimonious.
But while the Tonse alliance leaders can always play politics, and always find a way to hold on to their alliance, their supporters are critical thinkers whose loyalty cannot be taken for granted.
On social media, the mantra by folks supporting Tonse Alliance, clearly front the supporters’ despise for everything sycophantic or blind loyalty. “We oppose and govern ourselves,” goes the popular refrain.
And, indeed, when Chakwera sold the country a brilliant vision at his memorable swearing-in ceremony, then his inauguration and the first State of the Nation (Sona)address; declared his assets; reduced the size of his convoy; started arresting the thieving fat cats in government and made other gestures of goodwill; it was the Tonse brigade which came out of blocks quickly to lavish praise on the new Big Kahuna, as one revered departed journalist would have it.
And when the same Chakwera ‘messed up’ the task of appointing Cabinet, it was the same Tonse voting army that told ‘Servant Leader’ that there was nothing about servant leadership in the ‘family Cabinet’ or in showing the fair sex, for lack of better word, the middle finger!
So, by now, one would think, the presidency ought to have gotten the memo that the current citizenry, including the one that voted Tonse, has high standards. And it has revulsion at any signs of drifting back to the stagnation and corruption of the DPP lost era.
Yet, talking to folks on the street, one gets the impression that most Malawians are already getting disillusioned with Tonse, thanks to slow pace of reforms or, perhaps, absence of visible change of direction.
That is normal, at times. Presidents do have such periods and Chakwera has a whole five years to implement his vision.
The thing is, apart from the general observation of inertia, the whiff of scandal may solidify those sentiments and form citizen attitudes to the government going forward. Hence everyone who loves the country ought to be mortified by the serious allegations of any abuse of office—mafia style—like what we hear allegedly happened at the State-owned oil company, Nocma.
These are just allegations, for now. But they ought to be probed diligently. So far, the official response by State House spin doctors—amounting to that the President will not comment because the matters are under investigation—sound as tired and lame as they can possibly be.