The intra-party fights happening in the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) were inevitable and many are not surprised things have turned out the way they are barely four months out of government. The centre seems can no longer hold as the DPP gurus scramble for the party’s top position, that of DPP presidency.
I have always opined that once the DPP is out of government it will be the end of party as either many DPP gurus will defect to the party in government or will be arrested for crimes they committed while in government which then lead to weakening of the party.
The party failed to address the issue of succession from the onset because of greed. Even if the party had won the election, former President Peter Mutharika is frail and feeble and it would have been difficult for him to serve for five years. However, Mutharika and the party never seemed to mind to take care of the issue of party succession. No wonder there is now pushing and shoving among the party politburo, all scrambling for the top position, that of the party presidency.
I foresaw a party struggling to gel and withstand the pressures of being an opposition. My opinion was largely formed by the lack of leadership traits in most of the DPP gurus who were mostly driven by power and money and not much about political interests. Mutharika and the DPP enjoyed support then because many saw as an easy route to power and easy access to public money.
I have always held the view that Peter Mutharika was out touch with his party’s and the people. This is why he let some apparent wolves in sheep skin get too close to him. It is these people that have destroyed him and if the DPP doesn’t reorganise and restrategise, this will be the end of both Mutharika and the party.
I would be lying if I say I am not happy that the DPP is out of government. I am extremely happy to see that the party, which was a system of thieves and crooks has been kicked out of of government and I wish the DPP never returns to rule Malawi. But, I do not want to see DPP die. The existence of DPP as an opposition party is good for our democracy. As a country, we need a strong opposition and strong civil society to offer checks and balances and hold government accountable to the public. As a country, we should not let the Tonse government have a free ride. It doesn’t matter how good the government is, we need the opposition which is strong and able to speak truth to the government.
It is against this background that while many are celebrating the fall from grace of the DPP, we need to be wary of turning Malawi into a one party system. Malawi needs competitive party politics to provide the electorate with electoral alternatives. Opposition parties such as DPP are crucial for the success of democracy. The opposition and strong civil society are there to check the government from becoming authoritarian and to restrict its powers. A strong opposition is important to criticise the policies of the government and to check the expenditures of the government. The opposition should ensure that government delivers campaign promises, implements development and ensures that public opinion is expressed.
The opposition’s role is to question the government of the day and hold them accountable to the public. This also helps to fix the mistakes of the ruling party. The opposition is equally responsible for upholding the best interests of the people. They have to ensure that the government does not take any steps which might have negative effects on the people.
In Legislature the opposition is basically there to check the excesses of the ruling or dominant party and not to be totally antagonistic. There are actions of the ruling party which may be beneficial to the masses and opposition is expected to support such steps.
While the infighting goes on in the DPP, one thing the DPP leadership and supporters should not lose focus of their crucial role they play in politics. Hence, avoid killing or weakening the party. While people have the freedom of association such that they can dump their party and join another, defecting from one party to another is one sure way of creating a weak opposition which is incapable of holding the government accountable.
Fight all you can within your party, but do not let DPP die. As an opposition party, DPP is a big role to play for Malawi’s democracy to thrive.