The events that have unfolded in Zimbabwe in the past two weeks should have taught selfish Malawian politicians some telling lessons—to never take people for granted.
Although Zimbabwe is a couple of thousands of kilometres away from Malawi, Malawians follow Zimbabwean politics with gusto. What with over six million people who trace their origins to Malawi.
That is why a change of guard in Zimbabwe is a strong candidate for front page news or headline in Malawian newspapers and news bulletins.
Zimbabwe former president, Robert Gabriel Mugabe, two weeks ago sacked his longtime vice-president Emmerson Mnangagwa. Sensing that his life was in danger, the latter fled to South Africa. All along, this is the man who, in next month’s elections, had been tipped to succeed the ailing nonagenarian Mugabe who had been at the helm of Zimbabwe for 37 years. But Mugabe’s youthful but power hungry wife, Grace Mugabe, would have none of it. She had been eyeing the same position. She, therefore, engineered Mnangagwa’s dismissal as vice-president to clear the way for her eventual election.
But this did not please many, not least Zanu-PF, the war vets and the rank and file in the security establishment. The popular saying in Zimbabwe has been that power and leadership are not sexually transmitted.
Led by the tactician General Constantino Chiwenga, the army put Mugabe under house arrest hoping this would breathe sense in him to resign. But reluctant to do so, Mugabe had to be dismissed by his longtime and strongest pillar—Zanu-PF on Tuesday. The rest, as they say, is history.
At the writing of this article, preparations were well underway for ED, as Mnangagwa is fondly called in Zimbabwe, as the president.
As these events unfolded in Zimbabwe, here in Malawi, some People’s Party (PP) members of Parliament were seemingly prostituting with their longtime political nemesis, the ruling Democratic People’s Party (DPP). DPP desperately wants to frustrate the electoral reforms in its bid to be retained in power in the next elections.
The reforms include the switch to the 50+1 electoral system to replace the first-past-the-post system of electing a president. Not sure that APM who won with a paltry 36 percent of the votes in 2014, can get the 51 percent of the votes in 2019 under the 50+1 system, a spectacle that seemed real by the party’s miserable loss in the October 17 by-elections, DPP wants Parliament to reject the reforms.
Some PP MPs—some with their own skeletons in the closet—others propelled by greed; have been easy prey for the DPP’s machinations. This week, they met President Peter Mutharika whose underperforming government is subjecting 17 million Malawians to 25 hours-plus of blackouts, and is riddled with rampant corruption. Oblivious of the plight of Malawians, some of the PP MPs are, among others things, contented with two ministerial positions in a coalition arrangement with the DPP-led government during the remaining 18 months; and a guaranteed safe return home and protection of former president Joyce Banda.
The MPs have forgotten that millions of Malawians are suffering under the DPP’s watch and making. That this is the same government which is shielding culprits in the K577 billion Cashgate reduced to K236 billion by RSK Risk Assurance Services of The UK. They have forgotten that millions of Malawians have given up hope in this government. The PP MPs are paying a deaf ear to the fact that their prostituting with the DPP will not end the plight of the people they represent. They have forgotten that they have no mandate to become bedfellows with the DPP-led government from their constituents. They are looking away from the many corrupt issues DPP-led officials are committing with abandon to prop up their campaign purse. They can’t smell the stench and rot in this government. They can’t think that DPP just wants to use and dump them once the job is done. They can’t see that DPP is fast gliding itself out of power. They can’t see that people are watching.
Above everything else, they can’t learn from the Zimbabwe experience that in this age and era, voters can no longer be taken for granted forever.