Hon. Folks, not so long ago we spoke about the untold misfortunes that continue to soil the former ruling Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) since the party lost the court sanctioned fresh presidential elections on June 23 last year.
For starters, these embarrassments include bloody rivalries within the party’s national governing council and humiliating fist fights in front of television cameras.
This week, the party’s woes culminated into another misery as DPP lost two of its key parliamentary seats in Nsanje District (previously the party’s ‘stronghold’) in Tuesday’s by-elections.
The Malawi Electoral Commission (MEC) conducted the by-elections in seven constituencies and two wards to fill vacancies left by the death of previous office holders and nullification of 2019 parliamentary election results by the courts in some constituencies.
In the end, DPP came out as the most bruised party after surrendering its Nsanje Central and Nsanje North constituencies formerly held by ex-minister Francis Kasaila and former first deputy Speaker of Parliament Esther Mcheka-Chilenje both of whom were stripped of their 2019 victories by the High Court over widespread irregularities.
Probably both Kasaila and Mcheka-Chilenje lost their seats to Malawi Congress Party (MCP) candidates Kafandakhale Mandevana (Nsanje Central) and Enock Chizuzu (Nsanje North) because there was no Tippex in the elections.
Other winners were UTM Party’s Felix Katwafu Kaira (Karonga North-West), MCP’s Francis Berekanyama (Lilongwe Msinja South) and Arnold Kadzanja (Ntchisi North), Bizwick Million (Independent—Zomba Changalume) and Rodrick Khumbanyiwa (United Democratic Front-UDF— Chikwawa East).
But as an instance of consoling itself from the self-inflicted shame, DPP won the two Wards in Chitakale (Mulanje) and Liviridzi (Balaka) through its candidates Richard Mulingano and Lucius Elia, respectively.
Certainly, DPP’s miserable performance in the by-elections point to one thing; the party is in tatters and it is quickly losing its steam (chipani chikutha ngati makatani) and all this can be boldly attributed to political squabbles among senior DPP members.
Again, it is much clearer now that DPP as a party currently lacks a master who can unify the divided party into one strong bloc as it was previously.
It is not wrong to suggest that DPP supporters and sympathizers have become hopeless about the future of the party and many could soon be scattered like sheep without a shepherd. That is when APM and others party leaders will realise that ignored problems can only become worse problems.
On the other hand, DPP’s performance in this week’s by-elections is not surprising as the party has always achieved bad results in similar elections held recently since APM took over the party’s leadership.
For instance, out of six by-elections held in October 2017, MCP won five, including three parliamentary seats while DPP only won a Ward in Mayani North.
From the parliamentary race, DPP also lost a seat in Lilongwe City South-East that year following a successful court challenge by MCP which later won the by-election. Simply put, these election results and the worsening intraparty fighting in DPP should be regarded by wise members of the DPP as a pointer for the party’s approaching fate.
There is actually enough evidence to show that the former ruling party is failing to return support in its strongholds and other key areas. It is also clear that MCP has made political inroads in many areas once regarded as ‘no-go zones’ for the previous MCP, especially in the southern and northern regions.
Unfortunately, APM’s snoring on DPP problems is not only but also detrimental to the party’s chances of reclaiming government in the 2025 general elections.
I will say again… the problem with doing literally nothing by watching DPP problems grow at will soon haunt APM and it remains one of his toughest tasks to come out of his skeletons and demonstrate his politically leadership skills or else he should just quit as party leader and pave the way for a convention to choose his successor.
Unless APM smells the coffee and wakes up to sort things out in his party, I can fancy DPP becoming one of those briefcase parties not long from now.