To be brutally honest, the fresh presidential election—to be held on a day President Peter Mutharika will decide—will be a two-horse race.
Why Mutharika will set the day and not the Malawi Electoral Commission (MEC) or Parliament is because as I have said before, he wants the polls to be held on his terms and not on anybody’s terms. Mutharika is the one pulling the strings on the polls. He will set the polling day and decide whether to maintain or replace commissioners.
MEC, under the leadership of Jane Ansah will religiously follow Mutharika’s instructions.
The whole uncertainty about when the elections will be held is part of a larger scheme of things by Mutharika to ensure the fresh elections are held to his advantage. But I digressed.
The main contenders in the fresh elections are Mutharika who is the torch bearer for the DPP-UDF alliance and Lazarus Chakwera for the
Tonse Alliance comprising about nine political parties and a movement.
Of course, Peter Sinosi Kuwani for Mbakuwaku Movement will also appear on the ballot paper. But he is of no real consequence in this election. Politics is about numbers which he pitiably has not mustered.
Such being the case, the real race in the fresh elections campaign is between Tonse Alliance partners on the one hand and DPP-UDF alliance on the other.
It is, therefore, easy to deduce who the culprits are whenever there is a politically motivated incident of violence during the campaign. There is no way Chakwera’s MCP and Saulos Chilima’s UTM can turn on each other and unleash violence on themselves or their members. Similarly, it is foolhardy to think DPP and UDF can aim live and unfriendly fire at each other. Simple logic is that you fight an enemy and not a friend. The moment you load a gun and turn it on yourself, it means you have become your own enemy. So far, there is no evidence of such with the members of the two alliance groups.
On May 4, suspected arsonists torched a Lilongwe UTM Party district office. Two people, Ayiles Tambala and her son Shukran died within hours of each other from the burns they sustained in the inferno. On May 15 Selemani Tambala, husband and father to Ayiles and Shukran, respectively, succumbed to death from the severe burns he sustained after the arson which also wounded three more members of the family.
Tambala, who was a guard at a UTM Party office, was living with his family in an adjoining room.
In an environment that is highly politically toxic, it is fair for UTM and its sympathizers to point an accusing finger at their political opponents—DPP, as the culprits. Such a stance is emboldened by a series of arson attacks not only on UTM Party vehicles across the country over the past year, but also on MCP cadres and property. This stance is buttressed by the fact that police just look aside when DPP personalities or their agents perpetrate such heinous acts. They can’t do anything because they know who the people who sponsor these hoodlums. Not a single DPP cadre has ever been arrested and brought to a court of law to be prosecuted for their alleged crimes. At best, all the Police will say is that they are investigating, which is their trademark statement of saying they won’t do anything further. With such protection from the Police who are in a state of political capture, the culprits not only get away with it, but they are empowered to commit more of the same acts. Quite often, they will also brag that they are untouchable.
On Wednesday this week, members of the Tonse Alliance apprehended 17 suspected thugs armed with panga knives who they claimed wanted to destabilize their campaign tour in Blantyre. With the growing acrimony between rival political camps since the 2019 campaign period, it was not farfetched for the Tonse Alliance group to conclude who was responsible the arson. It is high time youths whom politicians usually use as pawns for violence realised that they are dangerously staking their lives.
Politicians are good at exploiting the youths. The Rwandan genocide of 1994 when over 800 000 people were massacred started in the same way. As a nation we must at all costs avoid taking the route that has violence and bloodshed as the final destination. Once the politicians achieve their objective they quickly regroup and start drinking tea together in hotels.
Meanwhile, the youths who are now putting their lives at risk, will be much worse off than before.