It is three days to go before Malawians across the country line up at polling centres to decide who will lead them for the next five years.
In the past three months, political parties and independents contesting in this Tripartite Election have thrown everything they can at potential voters in a bid to win them over.
UTM’s presidential candidate Saulos Chilima’s blitzkrieg across the country will be remembered for some years to come and even more remarkably if he comes even close to winning this election.
When he started out in July last year on launching UTM, he was highly underestimated and even today after the nine month assault he has inflicted on potential voters, which is really a mistake.
Even if he does not win this election, SKC will still have caused Malawi Congress Party (MCP) and Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) to think twice about underestimating an opponent because he will have inflicted some damage in one way or another.
Chilima’s UTM has been a gamechanger in this election but it is up to the voter to see whether a flamboyant campaign will translate to a change in their own lives.
MCP can sniff a victory after 25 years in the wilderness thanks to a well-funded election that has made all the difference from their previous attempts.
They might not like to hear it but UTM’s campaign strategy and approach has to some extent contributed to how MCP has carried out its own campaign.
Before UTM, DPP and MCP underestimated the power of social media in a campaign to the extent of calling UTM a Facebook party.
However, its approach and positioning of MCP as a youthful and changed party has been well executed. The Hi 5 has reached far and wide and people can see the party in a different light, on some aspects.
MCP’s campaign has not made bold promises, its manifesto can even be deemed lukewarm in terms of what it promises to deliver but that is not what people look out for when they are in the voting booth.
Apart from the financial muscle of its running mate Sidik Mia, the campaign has portrayed the presidential candidate Lazarus Chakwera as not so clueless and easily controlled after all. If the urban voters see him this way, finally MCP might have the chance to taste power again.
It is the DPP that has everything to lose in this election. It has brought nothing remarkable to the campaign and whole election but it has performance over the past years to show for it.
This is a party that anyone who has eyes and ears can comfortably say will win this election because of long standing tribal voting pattern that has been prevalent in previous elections.
While UTM and MCP have been portraying an air of trustworthiness, DPP has only shown arrogance particularly in its approach to the campaign.
A man seeking to propose to a woman does not begin to challenge her with his certainty of a victory, knowing full well there are other suitable men that she could consider.
Challenging the voter with confidence of a landslide is not the best of strategies neither is launching or opening new projects. ‘I have done this for you so you have no choice but to vote for me’ just goes to remind people how they have been ignored these past years in terms of construction of roads, hospitals and schools.
What the people have seen of DPP these past three months is arrogance, they have seen a party that is not trying hard enough to earn their vote and the party is likely to pay dearly for this.
For 90 days, the voter has been lied to, the voter has heard the empty and unrealistic promises, the voter has seen the flamboyance of the campaign strategies and the voter has a bicycle or had a K2 000 note for a little while. But it is now time to let the people speak, to show politicians who the boss is.