After 26 years, Malawi Congress Party (MCP), with the help of Tonse Alliance, is back in power under the leadership of Lazarus McCarthy Chakwera.
The winning of Chakwera was decisive as he won by 58.57 percent of the votes, against former president Peter Mutharika’s 39 percent.
Obviously, this was not pleasing to Mutharika, who on a number of occasions said he was to beat the hell out of Chakwera and the whole Tonse Alliance.
What gave confidence to Mutharika was probably that he and his party were in government and; therefore, had the money and other resources to use.
It is alleged that they used money to bribe people to vote for Mutharika, but what they did not realise was that Malawians had come to realise that bribes had failed to improve their lives. This time around people wanted a servant leadership with implementable ideas for a better life. People found this is Chakwera and Saulos Chilima; hence, they voted for Chakwera—leaving Mutharika and his money in the cold. This might be the beginning of the fading away of Democratic Progressive Party (DPP). The party members are used to getting money from Mutharika and, therefore, if the source of that money has dried up, no member will be interested to stick around.
Since getting out of power in 1994, MCP has survived and has been participating in every presidential and parliamentary election. After that loss, MCP suffered ridicule and humiliation, but soldiered on. One of the reasons that has made MCP to survive all these years despite being out of government is that MCP is one of the best organised parties.
Records have shown that at some point MCP was considered as the best organised party in Africa. The reason for this is its party structures which are at grass roots where everyone knows what MCP is all about. Even more so, the party is not kept together because of money. It is not a secret in Malawi that once the party is out of power it slowly, but surely, fades away because the leadership no longer has access to government resources.
The problem has been that the previous regimes failed to draw a line between government and party in power. The country and people of Malawi have lost so much with such kind of deliberate policy. Indeed, having no access to government resources parties do fed away. For example, UDF was a strong party with nationwide membership and now it is just a shadow of itself.
Malawians opted for multiparty democracy to have a strong opposition to the party in government. This was missing in one-party system. But it is unfortunate that parties have no survival skills once out of government and; therefore, fail to offer formidable opposition. Instead, the opposition members flock to join the party in government on the pretext that they want to work with the government in power. What they forget is that every Malawian pays tax to government, which means working with it.
The other thing which kills parties is that once a party has won the election, every party office bearer is given a position in government, including those with doubtful qualifications. Therefore, the party headquarters is just left to the messenger to keep the place clean. Sometimes the office is completely abandoned and when the party is out of power, they have nowhere to start from. The party office needs knowledgeable people to keep the party going as strong.
Political parties should maintain their strength all the time to make positive contribution to the country and government.