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SCHEMING FOR THE PRESIDENCY

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Although the Prime Minister may not be an intelligent man by our standards, he is crafty, shrewd and determined. The Prime Minister is on a mission, and because his mission has the advantage of following the predictability of African, and especially Malawian Politics, it has very good chances of success- at the expense of Malawi’s socioeconomic and political development.

A brief background is necessary before I expound this theory. Obviously, the Malawi constitution does not provide the position of Prime Minister. However, Malawi now has a de facto Prime Minister whose influence cannot be denied. He has such a hold on the affairs of the current government that he has illegally attributed to himself the power of an elected President. In other words, the current President is just a figurehead! Ministers and virtually all public officials now report to the Prime Minister. Just like many other Malawians of good will, I am very concerned. The only difference is that many are afraid to speak out. I am not.

Now, all Malawians know that essentially in Malawi, political parties do not really have effective fund-raising mechanisms. They depend either on a rich benefactor or on being in government and abusing government resources to do party activities. For this reason, many parties such as AFORD, which were influential at the dawn of the multiparty movement, have died a natural death. It can be argued that the model for political party sustainability in Malawi is to ensure that the party is in government at some point and steal enough money to support it through the rainy days when it is out of power. Supporting evidence for the model are the weak, dead and/or dying parties that have never been in power (AFORD, MDP PPM etc.), and the somewhat strong parties surviving off the benefits reaped when they were in power (MCP, UDF, PP, DPP).

It is my theory, based on my many conversations with him, that the Prime Minister has presidential ambitions. Forget the current vice president, or the much-touted Atupele Muluzi. The Prime Minister has his own plans! I also know that his ambitions have only been boosted by his current influence in the present administration. After all, if he were not to go after politics, what else would he do? But the Prime Minister also knows that it is one thing to have presidential ambitions, and quite another to see them come to reality. Realising this, the Prime Minister has devised a plan which in the Malawian political setting is almost fail safe: Control the president, restrict all cabinet ministers and other formerly influential party officials, make as much money as possible, and prevent anyone else from either having influence, or making any money. That way, when the president takes a bow and walks off the stage, the vacuum will naturally be filled by the only man in the room with the financial muscle to support the party. For hasn’t this been the way of Malawian politics from the dawn of this so-called multiparty democracy?

I must admit that this is a theory and is open to challenge. It is in this theory, however, that I have found the answer to the question why we seem to be led mostly by mediocrity in Malawi. It was Bertrand Russell that observed that ‘the fundamental trouble in the modern world is that the stupid are cocksure while the intelligent are full of doubt.” In Malawi, the so-called elite, in their doubts, never make the effort to organize themselves to lead the country. Meanwhile, people like the Prime Minister seize their opportunities. The Prime Minister, having made the president his puppet, will prevent everyone else to benefit in any real way from the DPP’s time in the sun. He will ensure that he ends up in control of the DPP purse once the president has bowed out from the scene, and use that control to pummel everyone into subjection to him, and into doing his bidding at the Party’s convention in 2019 or 2024. This is the real reason why the Prime Minister’s wealth, just a year into the presidential term, now already stands at around MK800 million. In Malawian politics, more than anywhere else, he who pays the piper calls the tune!

The State House has gone to great lengths trying to dismiss my writings as tantrums of a frustrated man. I agree that I do write out of frustration. But we differ on the cause of my frustration. They claim that the cause of my frustration is that I am not involved in government. This is rather shallow. I believe there is a great difference between loyalty and simply having no option. When you have options, you weigh your options when tides change instead of simply worshipping the system.

The cause of my frustration is that when I consider the prognosis of our democracy and its political leadership, it seems to me rather ominous, and that surprisingly, only a few eyes see that it is so, and even fewer voices are pointing it out. I am frustrated that because of fear of poverty, and the fear of being labelled frustrated, people are remaining silent in the face of obvious wrongs, and sensible governance and state administration is giving way to hero worship where we allow mediocrity to flourish. I look ahead and I see that if we are not careful, we as Malawians will continue to water the plant of mediocrity into our leadership and continue to complain silently as we watch our nation fail to rise to meet global challenges. This is my frustration and my motivation. Niccolo Machiavelli said, “When you disarm the people, you begin to offend them, and because they want you to conform, they call you a coward. Your voicing your opinions can only generate hatred.”

I am uncomfortable when I see the Prime Minister influencing the presidency to follow his mediocre thinking, and furthermore, setting out the foundation for what will only be another era of mediocre leadership, which from his own confession will have himself at its head. As I said, this is only a theory, but it is a theory grounded on personal observation and information, and one that the nation must consider. Now, my fellow Malawians might be comfortable and happy to promote such mediocrity in our political leadership. The truth is that I will never be comfortable to see such things and I cannot stay silent. Malawi deserves better. Much better!

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