Malawi has more that so registered political parties. It is true that each party has its founders or people who came together and formed a particular party. It is also equally true that once a party is formed and registered it belongs to the member of the party. The leadership of the party must be chosen from the members and not necessarily from the founders. The choice of the leadership is at a party convention.
As it were, MCP is the oldest party in Malawi and it was formed by late Orton Chirwa and others. The late Dr Kamuzu Banda joined the party after it was already established. As most Malawians know MCP has never been associated with the fact that it belongs to a particular person or a family. This is the party of the people of Malawi. This is unlike other parties. For example, UDF is believed to belong to the Muluzi family. Probably this is true because since it was formed some 27 years ago the party presidency has always been a Muluzi up to now. The same situation is with DPP which was formed by the late President Bingu wa Mutharika. Ever since the party president has been a Mutharika.
Meanwhile, it goes without saying that when a political party is taken as a family property, members should expect some political squabbles at some point more especially if the party is no longer in power. This is actually the case with DPP at the moment. After it lost the president to MCP of Tonse Alliance, the media reports seem to indicate that some members of DPP want a party convention to go and choose new leadership to prepare the for the next election. However, the party president Mutharika and a group of members seem not to have the opinion of a party convention now. Indeed, the DPP is now split into two and each group is showing some open defiance. What the party leadership should know is that it is only natural that once a party has lost an election the leadership must be revised and if possible, go to a convention to choose new leaders to take the part forward. In fact, some members such as Hon Kondwani Nankhumwa, Uladi Mussa and others have shown interest to compete for the party president position. The main stumbling block might be president Mutharika who might not be willing to surrender the leadership of DPP to someone else. The current problems in DPP can be likened to power struggle and if not solution is quickly found the squabbles can destroy the once formidable party. The signs of power struggle have been seen on the choice of the leader of opposition in Parliament. The usual practice is that the MPs of a largest opposition party choose the leader and Hon Nankhumwa was chosen. Surprisingly, President Mutharika had his own choice of Hon Kusaila. Such conflicting choices says a lot about the party disunity. As it is now the future of DPP looks bleak.
Maybe it can be said that MCP lasted so long because no one can claim its ownership. Some people might argue that Dr Kamuzu Banda stayed for three decades as President and therefore he was like the owner. This is not true. Dr Banda lasted for so long because of dictatorship.
There are so many examples in Malawi which show that the once strong parties have been reduced to dormancy because of leaders that treat parties as a personal property. It is natural that people want change within the parties so that they can grow from strength to strength. Malawians called for change at national level and they got it when President Chakwera came into power. The same things should happen in parties. People become sick and tired to listen to the same leader who claim to own the political party as well as the members. People will not tolerate such slave master relationships.