I know that even John Tembo himself surely understands that he cannot win the presidency. Do I have a reason? Yes.
Despite hiding in the façade of rigging—the excuse he always uses to explain his failure—John Tembo understands that there are two main factors that best explain his two previous electoral failures.
One, he is the last politically-active symbol of MCP’s hated past, and there are a lot of electorates that have forgiven but not forgotten that tumultuous history. Two, he fails to see Malawi as a nation; his obsession with Central region makes him out of touch with modern, cosmopolitan needs.
These two factors have tragically conspired and continue to conspire against the man and, as long as he is around, they will not stop.
Tembo, interestingly, understands these two factors because, over the years, we have seen him, consistently, saying ‘I am a changed man now’. He used the word ‘change’ advisedly because he understands his political problem and the only way for him to solve it is to change, or seen to be a changed person.
Unfortunately, the fact that he has been rejected twice, against the background of preaching a ‘changed’ man sermon, arguably shows that Malawians just can’t imagine a changed Tembo. Am I lying?
His tenacious cling to power, to me, is more a question of personal and family security than a search for political achievement. He feels more vulnerable without having a political influence—that is why he stooped so low when he went amok last year lobbying for position of the second vice president.
The vulnerability he suffers is not different from the other politicians such as Bakili Muluzi and Bingu Wa Mutharika suffered. However, the unfortunate thing with Tembo is that he does not have a politically-active brother or son like Bingu and Muluzi respectively to give power to. He is surrounded by people he does not trust.
Tembo will, like Robert Mugabe, do anything not to lose the basic power he has as an MP and MCP leader. Can’t you see how he is all over trying this and that trick aimed at discrediting potential challengers in the party so that he stands again? MCP is the only asset he has, the political asset he uses to bargain for his personal security. His longevity in it has little, if not nothing, to do with the love of it. It has more to do with what he gets from it.
That is why whatever happens to the party, as long as what he wants from it is intact, is none of his business. He does not care that, under his leadership, the party’s parliamentary influence is dropping. He does not care that the party is not just failing to move beyond Central region but also failing to maintain it.
At 79, Tembo knows better than anybody that he is too old for a sensible public office and, politically, he is waning fast. Assuming the convention takes place, if MCP delegates go ahead to change the law and continue with Tembo, the party will wane with him. He is a potent symbol of a political suicide bomber.
This column, from today until something happens, will be ending by reminding the Speaker of Parliament to, without further excuses, divulge details of President Joyce Banda’s declared wealth. I know he has the file. And I know he is busy saying there are no procedures in the Asset Declaration Law for divulging the details. Well, I have a clue: organise a press conference and divulge them. I do not think he will breach any law for doing this. Once again, divulge the President’s wealth, Mr Speaker, Sir.