Arranged marriages are very troublesome affairs. I sometimes wonder how on earth people conceive the idea that two grown-ups, without the glue of affection could live in some form of intimacy together.
Yet throughout history, across the world, the idea of arranged marriage has received traction from generation to generation among both the rich and the poor, royalty and peasants.
It often doesn’t end well. Even among those deeply in love, marriage is an enterprise demanding hard work and it only gets more taxing when love is non-existent.
You probably can cite a few couples who married for other reasons other than love, but history presents the 1795 marriage of England’s George IV to Caroline of Brunsick as warning of the folly of marriages of convenience.
Caroline, it turned out, had only seen George from a portrait. George, on the other hand, had not seen her bribe to be, at all, until wedding day. It turned out to be ‘disgust at first sight” instead of love at first sight. George would spend the whole wedding night drinking, famously failing to perform his customary conjugal duties on the first night together. The bride, too, complained that the king was fat and nowhere near as handsome as the official portraits suggested.
It ended in tears. Separating just after a few weeks later, the couple would spend the next three decades bitterly bad-mouthing each other in public.
If you watched Lazarus Chakwera and Saulos Chilima share that wooden chair outside High Court building in Lilongwe during the historic presidential elections case; then heard the former’s inauguration speech and the subsequent speeches by the two since assuming office, you would be forgiven for thinking the unmistakable romance by the two, means that their political alliance was a natural course of history. Or it has a clean bill of health.
But the reality is far starker and darker. The Tonse Alliance was not only born out of political expediency, but it was forced upon the main alliance partners by the people of Malawi; and truth be told, the wise decision of the constitutional court to introduce 50+1 in deciding winner of the elections.
Even before it was announced, within both camps existed members who opposed the idea of unity with every fiber of their soul and others never accepted any give-and-take proposition.
As I write this, the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) appears far displaced from its position as either MCP or UTM Party’s chief nemesis.
The two parties, for all intents and purposes, are now bitter rivals sharing the same bed. Power sharing, or its semblance, is only working at the top where Chakwera and Chilima have treaded carefully not to be involved or distracted by the ongoing skirmishes involving the parties’ supporters.
First, it appeared as if it was just Facebook banter by the rival groups, but each time there’s a bye-election, which rivalry has degenerated into violence and in the recent election cycle, senior party officials traded serious accusations in public. It doesn’t look good.
And perhaps, one may also begin to see cracks at the top where the two principals have for long kept the veneer of unity. That façade might be crumbling. Not that we have seen or heard something substantial, but it was baffling to read the State House’s statement on Wednesday night explaining the delay to announce a reconfigured Cabinet by way of somehow fingering the Vice-President for the delay.
That did not make much sense. After all, the two had previously been pictured together by their PR teams, purportedly assessing the same Cabinet as way back as February. Now, suddenly, there is delay in appointing Cabinet and the question really should be: What is it that we are not being told about the process? If, indeed, the two leaders are working together as cordially as their public persona makes us believe, why is it so difficult for them to conjure a Cabinet without the fumbling we have seen in the past few days?
All this bodes ill for the future. The two parties are sitting on a time-bomb that will soon explode. That will not serve Malawians seeking a stable and performing government any justice. What Malawians need now is not much more political attrition, but genuine development? UTM Party and MCP should work out their differences now because, come 2025, Malawians will not brook any excuses from either party. And this country frankly has had so many wasted regimes. Someone must save this one from becoming the latest.