Malawi governing Peopleâ€™s Party (PP) may draw comfort from the wisdom of African politics which says the party in power never loses elections, but PP should not begin celebrating victory yet because opposition parties could carry the day in 2014, a survey has shown.
A survey that Nation on Sunday conducted during the past seven days shows that 59 percent of the people interviewed believe that opposition parties could win the 2014 elections.
The people were surveyed in face-to-face interviews in 18 districts as well as through Facebook and the short messaging service (SMS).
The key argument that those who believe PP would be floored in 2014 is that President Joyce Banda and her PP have failed to turn the economy around since the change of government in April.
On the other hand, those who said PP will win largely based their assessment on the state of opposition parties in the country, arguing that they are too weak and fragmented to dent PPâ€™s electoral prospects in 2014.
Given the results of last weekâ€™s Nation on Sunday survey, which found that over 70 percent of the people interviewed believe that the President has failed, it was only inevitable that there could be some space for opposition parties to exploit ahead of 2014.
Commenting on the survey, political analyst Dr Mustafa Hussein said opposition parties have every chance to show PP the exit.
â€œThey can win, there is that possibility. Firstly, the government that we have came in by default and, therefore, its incumbency base is not very strong.
â€œSecondly, the current administration is dominated by old faces and people may not see a lot of change,â€ said Hussein.
He said discerning opposition parties can exploit the opportunity and win in 2014 by getting serious with their strategies.
President of the Peopleâ€™s Progressive Movement (PPM) Mark Katsonga said the survey only confirmed his assessment that 2014 belongs to opposition parties.
Katsonga said it is not what government or opposition parties have done that is influencing the feeling among Malawians, but a combination of factors.
â€œPeople of Malawi now know that they have been taken for a ride. They have realised that in the last 48 years they have been ruled by just two parties and that is MCP and UDF.
â€œThe people are now busy looking at the opposition to see who they can trust. Many people in government in the past years have loved the party more than Malawi,â€ he said.
The Democratic Progressive Party (DPP), which found itself in opposition benches overnight in April following the death of Bingu wa Mutharika, also rates highly its chances for 2014.
DPP leader in Parliament, Dr George Chaponda, said the exit of Goodall Gondwe and Wakuda Kamanga has not damaged the party.
â€œPP came into power due to natural circumstances; they have done nothing dramatic so far and all they are doing is to follow what DPP started. And despite the fact that they are following what we started they are failing to manage it.
â€œIssues like devaluing the currency without establishing cushioning mechanisms, issues of security and threats from Tanzania, a thing that has never happened in DPPâ€™s time,â€ said Chaponda.
He said DPP is being judged unfairly based on the last two years of its tenure without looking at the â€˜solid worksâ€™ the party has done.
â€œWe were being accused of bad laws but nothing like arresting journalists happened. The only issues were shortage of forex and fuel, a thing which we were ably managing. DPP had a vision and that is why I am saying that come 2014 the real opposition, that is DPP, will come back to power because these people have no vision,â€ said Chaponda.
But PP spokesperson, Hophmally Makande, said the party is not worried by the findings of the survey.
Makande said people in opposition who are saying they will win in 2014 are â€˜day dreaming.â€™
He pointed to PPâ€™s success in the recent by-elections in Mzimba as an indicator of the partyâ€™s support on the ground.
On the â€˜recycled politiciansâ€™ Hussein referred to, Makande said people approach the issue without solid analysis.
â€œA rolling stone gathers no moss, they say, but it shines,â€ said Makande.
He then descended on DPP.
â€œEvery problem Malawi is facing now is because of one person: Peter Mutharika. Bingu was normal before he decided to pave way for Peter Mutharika to take over. He broke all rules and did all he could to try to make Peter Mutharika his successor.
â€œMaybe other parties should speak of 2014, not DPP. See how they fared in the Mzimba by-elections. And they should not say we are following what they did already.
â€œWhatever DPP did in their last term was bad, so how can we follow their ways? We are starting afresh. Thatâ€™s why we are saying economic recovery,â€ said Makande.