Hon. Folks, in March this year MCP leader Lazarus Chakwera and his UTM counterpart Saulos Chilima unveiled the Tonse Alliance ahead of the June 23 fresh presidential elections.
This was the only practical way to dislodge the DPP government contemptuously branded as a ‘system’ by some of its uncompromising fanatic who metaphorically implied that the deeper the roots grow, the harder they are to uproot.
Defeating the ostensibly entrenched blue system was surely not going to be a walk in the park for either Chakwera or Chilima or even both of them with their efforts combined.
No wonder the alliance was birthed to ease the removal of DPP from power amid raging pride battles among hordes of MCP and UTM followers who quarreled on social media and elsewhere over who was to be the torchbearer.
Certainly, the Tonse Alliance idea was a bold decision because of the somewhat comparable opposition manifestos and in view of the new 50%+1 majority threshold for winning the presidential elections as interpreted by the courts.
In the end, the opposition partners successfully unseated Peter Mutharika from State House, roping in the Tonse government coalition with Chakwera at the helm and Chilima as his deputy.
Hon. Folks, by simple definition a government coalition is a power sharing union that comes into play when two or more political parties—none of which is able to win a majority of its own—combine to form a government.
This is where we are now; MCP, UTM, People’s Party, Aford, Freedom Party, Petra and others are jointly running a post-election show that is a fully-fledged government coalition.
However, three months down the line numerous pointers are now starting to suggest that the new government could become fragile and susceptible to careless inconsistencies in policies, actions and speech by Tonse politicians.
Just last week, a verbal war erupted between some officials of the MCP and UTM (key partners of the alliance) over forms for accessing the Malawi Enterprise Development Fund (Medf) loans.
In that public tirade, MCP second vice-president Harry Mkandawire declared at a political rally in Karonga that MCP supporters will be prioritised in the Medf loans disbursement because Chakwera—the head of State—is the party’s leader.
According to Mkandawire, he was responding to UTM’s secretary general Patricia Kaliati who is alleged to have collected loan forms for distribution in the district when she earlier visited the Karonga District’s Medf offices.
Karonga is among the districts where Malawi Electoral Commission (MEC) will conduct parliamentary by-elections in November following the demise of Karonga Central Constituency MCP legislator Cornelius Mwalwanda.
But in reaction to the verbal tirade within the alliance, the Tonse secretariat swiftly blamed the opposition for advancing what they called a false narrative that there are divisions in the ruling bloc.
In a press statement, the secretary generals of MCP and UTM also played down the verbal tirade and categorically refuted reports suggesting that there are divisions between some MCP and UTM members.
Hon. Folks, history has taught us so many free lessons in recent history.
One of the lessons is that politicians will always be politicians in the manner they handle political pressure that reflects badly on their survival.
Indeed there was conflict of interest among some sections of the alliance over politicisation of the government loans which is contrary to what the Tonse leadership is attempting to do by depoliticising such public programmes. Credit should go to the presidential executive assistant Sean Kampondeni who openly disassociated the government from the outburst attributed to some overzealous MCP and UTM officials.
These folks in government must tread carefully and have clear objectives in their five years run to the next election otherwise there is high probability they may fallout even before 2025 if such bickering and overzealousness is left unchecked.