A s the tussle between Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) and Malawi Congress Party (MCP) for the three parliamentary seats and three wards ended with ugly exchange of words and false promises to the people of these areas, the underlying tones of the campaign was all too obvious that once again, Malawians had forgotten the bigger picture.
In the run up to the by-elections littered with pockets of violence and indications that political campaigns are nowhere reaching maturity, the opposition briefly forgot its problems, save for People’s Party (PP) and Uladi Mussa’s terrible timing.
The bickering in MCP was suspended, the party forgot about the bane of their existence, the Secretary General and his crew and rallied behind grabbing the constituencies of Lilongwe City South East, Lilongwe Msozi North and Nsanje Lalanje.
As nearly every State House aide and Cabinet minister made full use of the taxpayers’ money to campaign for DPP candidates.
But as the campaign wound to an end, two notable and somewhat exciting events happened, first of which was the presence of Vice-President Saulos Chilima at a DPP-strictly political rally and finally, President Peter Mutharika deigned to show himself in public since the return from the United Nations General Assembly.
Mutharika’s showing in Lilongwe Msozi North and Lilongwe City South East was no coincidence. His going there was supposed to be the icing on the cake after numerous visits by his ministers and aides.
What should have been a triumphant wrapping up of a campaign well fought, in the literal sense of the word, fell flat.
The reason for the president’s visit failing to make a mark was simple: There was too much to deal with in a short period of time.
Had President Mutharika addressed a press conference on his arrival, he would not have had to respond to issues of vampires in Mulanje, even after a press statement from State House assuring people of their safety was released the previous night.
If Chilima had been allowed to address a rally or two, he would not have made much of a difference except to show the voters that the DPP cared to win back the seat or acquire one more for its administration.
But the voters have had a lot on their minds, least of which is listening to promises of developments in a constituency which had a ruling party MP for a good three years.
On the minds of the voters is not nsima but what will accompany the staple meal when they have no power for 12 hours every day to run their small businesses.
After losing all but two constituencies in Lilongwe in 2014, the DPP should have known that there would be need for multiple visits by the higher echelon of the party, not just the Secretary General and certainly not when the voters had made up their minds.
Not to be a prophet of doom for the DPP but their energies and especially the visit by the president that should have been monumental would have been better spent in Nsanje-Lalanje, that is where there is danger, if the levels of political violence are anything to go by.
For the DPP to expect to win a seat in rural Lilongwe or take Lilongwe City South East is to dream in colour and if nothing, the one remaining seat that the DPP won in Lilongwe City might as well have been a fluke. n