"It's shameful that the UDF party wants to take us back to the dark days,"

Mr Gwanda Chakuamba (2003)

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Thursday, February 15, 2007

Muluzi’s ‘09 candidacy
by Mzati Nkolokosa, 08 February 2007 - 08:04:37
It is the same man, the same tactics and the same position. Bakili Muluzi may end up not contesting but anointing and supporting a UDF presidential candidate.

It seems like a journey towards a great coalition, to be led by former president Bakili Muluzi, to defeat President Bingu wa Mutharika in the 2009 presidential elections.
The latest call for Muluzi to contest in the polls is from leader of the New Republican Party (NRP), Gwanda Chakuamba, who was a sworn enemy of Muluzi’s 10-year rule. Now Chakuamba seems certain to support Muluzi in 2009.
“I, on behalf of the New Republican Party, declare my interest not to contest in 2009 general elections should Bakili Muluzi stand,” said Chakuamba in a press release last week.
This support is not an isolated case. It is within calls by UDF functionaries for Muluzi to contest in the 2009 elections. But what has happened that Chakuamba should now support Muluzi?
One, Chakuamba knows he lost his political constituency and he may not make it on his own. Two, his statement appears like a response to either general calls for Muluzi to contest, or an approach by the UDF, meaning there is, perhaps, some strategy seeking support for Muluzi.
It was stealth talk throughout 2006 until January 23 this year when Northern Region UDF governor Kajiso Gondwe nominated Muluzi as the party’s presidential candidate in 2009.
This, claimed Gondwe, was a source of celebration in a meeting where the resolution was made that one bought drinks for all. That someone, most likely, was Gondwe himself.
Seven days later, UDF committees from central, southern and eastern regions supported Muluzi’s candidacy in the 2009 elections. The latest was the district governors from UDF’s Sapitwa Region. They nominated Muluzi on Saturday. Now all UDF regional committees, made up of district committees, are backing Muluzi.
The party, so far, has maintained this has never been discussed at national executive committee (NEC) hence it should not be taken seriously. Further, UDF publicity secretary Sam Mpasu insists Muluzi has never, ever, expressed interest in the 2009 presidential elections.
But Muluzi’s silence is not strange. This is how he works. It is the way he sold the idea of open terms from 2001. Sometimes, Muluzi, like all politicians, doesn’t mean what he says and doesn’t say what he means and it seems he doesn’t know that silence is a speech act louder than sound.
Now he has not employed silence only but, for the first time, distance. He is in Britain from where he is listening to calls for his candidacy in 2009.
Does Muluzi
want to contest?
Politically, Muluzi may be likened to a tattered book, with torn pages and hard to read. Yet the most likely answer is that he wants the presidency.
But, one might say, he hasn’t said so? That is right, and that’s how he works. He didn’t speak for third term either but he used his cohorts to campaign for his tenancy at the State House beyond two terms. He likes silence. Now he has added distance. The same, old tricks made new by new tactics and most likely to bring new results.
Yet Muluzi may not stand in 2009. One, he is, of course, in good health but there is no assurance that he will not be seeing his doctors once in a while. Political campaign trail is a tiresome road and his health may deteriorate again.
Two, he will not contest because the Constitution may bar him. The spirit of the Constitution, according to some of the framers, was that every person should be President for a maximum of two consecutive terms. This is the interpretation of most people but subject to the High Court.
In this case, Muluzi will anoint a candidate for UDF. It seems the end of this talk will be like in 2004 when Muluzi brought Mutharika into UDF.
Muluzi, according to party supporters, returns home on February 18. He will land at Kamuzu International Airport and live in Lilongwe, probably to monitor parliamentary proceedings from within the capital city.
He will also address rallies where key speakers will endorse him as UDF presidential candidate in 2009. The rallies will be in Central Region first, followed by the North and finally the South. This will be a chorus of the song that Muluzi started in 2001.
It will be less vocal than the 2004 campaign because the rallies will not be live on MBC. But it is clear Muluzi will build a coalition of parties to dislodge Mutharika from power. Chakuamba is already on UDF side. Congress for Democracy (CODE) might also be approached and most likely accept to work with UDF in 2009 elections. There is no harm.
The trick is on Malawi Congress Party. Muluzi needs its support but there is one question: Will Chakuamba and John Tembo work together? This is where Mutharika’s Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) may come in to divide Muluzi’s alliance.
Further, the DPP may build its own alliance with People’s Progressive Movement (PPM) and other parties, a move that will result in three presidential candidates: Mutharika, Muluzi and Tembo.
Back to power?
It may happen. It may not, most likely. But imagine the Malawi Electoral Commission (MEC) announcing that Muluzi has won the 2009 presidential race!
Immediately vendors will leave the flea markets and, like huge clouds of locusts, flock back to the streets without being told to do so. They will realise that time for chaos is back, meaning order gained in the past two years is gone.
Young Democrats (YDs) will immediately rush to the streets to terrorise people. Once again the distance between Chichiri Trade Fair grounds and Chichiri Roundabout would become infested with YDs. What ever happened to this area! The country will no longer be safe for people with alternative views.
The civil society, the free press, human rights activists and all people who love the country will be under fire. Emmie Chanika of Civil Liberties Committee will be assured of another beating in the presence of helpless Police.
The University of Malawi calendar will be in shambles again. Colleges will close anytime, indefinitely, without the slightest hint of the opening date.
Education in general shall be in chaos. Teacher Training Colleges shall be closed, again. Primary school teachers will be paid once in two months while pupils shall go to school to meet striking teachers.
Protest songs will be back. Billy Kaunda will be singing Mwataya Chipangano again. Sound debate and arguments based on intellectual premises, shall be drowned by cheap political talk from empty heads that will patronise government.
Corruption will flock back into the system. Dubious contractors, who have disappeared now, will take over again. Once Muluzi will be back in power, there will be another K187 million education scandal, another billion kwacha ID scandal, another Land Rover scandal, this and that scandal, yesterday, today and tomorrow; everyday, everywhere.
Such will be tough, undesirable times indeed.

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