A raven, which is known to be black as coal, was envious of the swan, because the swan’s feathers were as white as the purest snow.
The foolish raven got the idea that if it lived like the swan, swimming and diving all day long and eating the weeds and plants that grow in the water, its feathers would turn white like the swan’s.
So, foolish raven left its home in the woods and fields and flew down to live on the lakes and in the marshes. But though it washed and washed all day long, almost drowning itself at it, its feathers remained as black as ever.
And as the water weeds it ate did not agree with it, the raven got thinner and thinner, and at last it died.
What the raven, and probably many a people, missed is that a change of habits would not alter nature.
Broadly speaking, the electing of Reverend Dr Lazarus Chakwera as Malawi Congress Party (MCP) president brought some uniqueness to the party that is so soiled by dark history that not only Chakwera but its life-president Hastings Kamuzu Banda apologised to Malawians for things done in Kamuzu’s name by people who had betrayed his trust.
Under Chakwera, there has been some significant change in design of the primary political dynamics in MCP. There have been, for example, cases when the party youth have been engaged in charity work and fundraising activities.
Perhaps this owes to personality of the party president. Chakwera is distinctive and, without doubt, his commitment to public service knows no bounds, having, inter alia, once served as president of Malawi Assemblies of God.
He is, unlike his predecessor, not a pacesetter of the political discourse.
The personality of the MCP president had helped quite tremendously in changing the sullied party image it has carried with it for so long.
And majority thought MCP now has the leadership that, without contradiction, heralds a new phase of politics.
It is common knowledge that it has been relatively difficult for Malawi political parties to convince Malawians that they can abandon the type of politics that has made the country stuck at the bottom of every development index when they are still steered by the same politicians who have been tried and tested and have been found wanting.
So, that is what some thought is peculiar about MCP now.
But news that the MCP youth this week fought in Lilongwe as the party called for fresh elections in its Southern Region committee, yet again embroiled in squabbles, suggests that the party has merely changed its habits by imitating others, but by nature it remains the same old black-coloured raven characterised by dearth of democratic governance and intolerant to criticism.
The academic-oriented party spokesperson Jessie Kabwila might have played down the fighting among the youth as a ‘small in-house matter’, but it should be cause for worry for the main opposition political party—commonly referred to as a government-in-waiting—that the very same hands the youth on some occasion used to voluntarily cut grass around the party headquarters were now used to sort out matters they had disagreed on.
Surely, there is no umunthu philosophy pamphlet that advocates solving so-called in-house matters by barbaric methods such as exchange of blows.
Considering the limitless wherewithal and massive government machinery at the disposal of any Malawian ruling party to control the country through a combination of violence and intimidation, could with these signs MCP accommodate dissenting views if the party ascended to the highest office of the land?