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

Mr Gwanda Chakuamba (2003)

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Sunday, August 05, 2007

Candle burning in the storm
ADMIN (8/1/2007)

photograph by

The people have spoken. And Chinua Achebe, the writer of Things Fall Apart, that beautiful novel which Benedicto Malunga has translated into Chipasupasu is wise. "No man is greater than his people," he speaks in the novel. Bright Molande, a correspondent writes.

All eyes saw him; the cameras could not lie. Flanked by ecstatic lawmakers whose hollow laughter rose into the darkening sky over the gathering storm, one elderly man trudged out of the Parliament Chambers almost drenched. These are eyes of 13 million souls in search of a candle that stands flickering in the storm.

Shoulders sunk, yet suppressing a smile, eyes upon his feet that have walked in and out of the chambers for almost half a century, 43 years. Perhaps, he was pondering his fate before his idol "Big Man" who has tactfully stayed out of eyesight like a god of the storm.

This living symbol and spirit of the Kamuzu Banda dictatorship times, now serving some hidden irrational force, John Tembo drove his political ship to a dead crush against the people of Malawi today by wrecking the budget. Wrecking hearts of the people to hopelessness. The opposition has worked tirelessly since 2004 to see this national tragedy, now we know.

Political suicide

Clearly, the leader of opposition Tembo is caught in the storm of Bakili Muluzi’s wisdom, if wisdom. Muluzi has become the leader of opposition bona fide.

It is Muluzi who coined the second motion of discussing Section 65 and the budget concurrently. He announced it on landing at Chileka Airport. Remember? Tembo took it to the House of Assembly like a loyal servant.

Like the faithful sheep of the Lord, some men of God, the entire Synod of Blantyre followed this wisdom to the letter and spirit too. Yet, something smelt bad out of the egg before it hatched.

How can a single group discuss two different issues, which they agree are separate, concurrently—two issues along with each other at the same time? Carefully crafted confusion this.

Suppose that motion had passed. How would the august House continue to be discussing Section 65 with the injunction restraining the Speaker, an injunction which is a quest for justice? They would have to get it lifted first. That would never be easy.

Yet, the worst danger is that Muluzi is like a suicide bomber. He politically destroys himself together with all those who follow him. All political heavyweights he attracts end up only seduced to their destruction, in his political self-destruction.

Chakufwa Chihana was the first to rise and follow Muluzi, and that was the beginning of his end. He crashed into a political grave. It was the end of the once mighty Alliance for democracy (Aford), a party that has become so blind in direction and bankrupt in values that they fight in the church, in memoriam of Chihana.

After falling out with Muluzi, Brown Mpinganjira reduced himself to pitching his tattered political tent on the foot of BCA Hill where it never stops raining politically. Now Mpinganjira lives in the doldrums, sitting on a political veranda of a falling house he cannot completely enter. It will take him some 10 years to remake himself as presidential candidate. He will need to think hard to salvage himself before Malawians completely write him off.

And after that deep fall, Gwanda Chakuamba fell again into the luring of Muluzi who is politically acidic. Now all reasoning Malawians laugh every time Chakuamba speaks.

Now, it is Tembo’s turn come round recoiling him like a deadly python. Politically, Tembo is bigger than Muluzi because he has political muscles. But he is losing political wings with which he could fly into 2009, wings which Muluzi lost because of what perceptive analysts see as his "lack of succession of leadership plan" that led to imposing a man he could not drag by the nose.

At the height of his power in opposition, Tembo nose-dived to plunge into the comforting hands of the fallen. He plunged into self-destruction. Of course, the younger blood in MCP is clapping and cheering him on to his self-destruction (and he naively thinks that means support). They salivate for his downfall so that they can take over the ship when he has completely swam deep into these hot stormy waters. That too is party politics. "Cracks in the Wall" of the party.

Uphill path to 2009

Unfortunately, Tembo is destroying himself together with the MCP. He is seen to be mobilising the aspirations of the party against development, against needs of the people, the voters. Yet, the fact is, some MPs in the party cannot speak and clap him on out of fear. Not every MP in MCP has his or her conscience inwardly sworn against the needs of the people, the progressive budget. Too much fear breeds misery in the land.

But indeed, Muluzi reasons like a suicide bomber. The death of UDF is becoming the death of MCP. Even Muluzi’s intention to stand again in 2009 was not necessarily based in believing that he can win. He knows well. His logic has been to destroy Bingu at all cost, whatever it takes, as long as Bingu falls. Yet, this has not been the thinking of the entire party.

When Sam Mpasu and Friday Jumbe were publicly contradicting their Muluzi in arguing that the collective position of the party was "to focus on rebuilding the party" in posing for 2009 elections, they also meant the Muluzi propensity for vengeance is not rebuilding but destroying the party.

In Muluzi’s "stand again" intentions, the strategy was therefore to divide Bingu’s votes in the South and make Tembo’s Central Region (where he has been commanding until his Section 65/Budget Tragedy) votes outnumber those of Bingu. This is what initially appealed to Tembo to drift towards Muluzi, that is, before all these flying allegations of receiving millions from his "Big Man".

Tembo thought he was strategising for 2009 elections. But he forgot one thing; that he was selling his political soul to the control of a man who is in a self-destructive mode, a Muluzi whose deadliest enemy are his own negative motives.

Tembo’s blunting wisdom reasoned that his success lies in a man whose political towers now lie in ruins of memory. This error of judgment was a grievous fault, and grievously has Tembo paid for it. He has delivered his electorate en mass to Bingu and the DPP by carelessly trampling where the wise tread—the budget. This is then the greatest paradox of pursuing Section 65.

In intending to punish the MPs who were "snatched" from the UDF, to claim "our stolen votes" as they say, they are giving more 2009 votes to Bingu and the DPP. The pursuit of Section 65 is not based on reason and logically it is politically abortive, self-destructive and ill-conceived. All those who have said "NO" to budget have committed political homicide, and political suicide eventually.

Martin Luther King was right: "Evil men plot, but wise men plan". While the UDF and MCP are plotting, hiding behind constitutionalism, blackmailing government and dangling the double-hooked bait of the budget to ambush the DPP with the cutlass of Section 65, losing popularity in their political homicide in so doing, the DPP is responding by planning and gaining ground towards 2009.

Towards party ideology

The best winning strategy for MCP should have been detaching itself from the dying UDF and supporting development, and this does not precisely mean joining the DPP. We still need an opposition for our democracy. They would retain their supporting grassroots who equally need development like all Malawians.

One problem is, the opposition in Malawi does not know its mandate. The mandate of the opposition anywhere in the world can only stop at critiquing government, capitalising and building on the weaknesses of the ruling while making recommendations that are popular with the electorate. But the opposition in Malawi wants to rule before expiry of the five-year term. Really, the mandates of our three major parties—MCP, UDF and DPP are deeply stuck in the contexts of their formation. MCP is aged and fast needs regeneration; UDF was transitionary and needs refocusing while DPP is young (and progressive) but needs to deepen its roots.

Now UDF has returned to its role of a pressure group because its leadership is failing to accept that history cannot be reversed and refocus its energies. It was initially a united front fighting for democratic change. It has leader gifted with mobilising a front to fight wars, even if it means mobilising his enemies to the frontier. This is what some analysts wrongly see as Muluzi’s negotiating prowess, which they believe is missing in Bingu.

In his 2003 interview with the BBC Robin White, the then NDA Brown Mpinganjira did not only swear never to work with Muluzi seven times, but he also said: "Muluzi is a good strategist who calculates every move he makes. The trouble with Muluzi is that he expends his energies in a negative direction." Yes, with negative motives too,

Backward Flight.

Unfortunately, this time he is fighting a wrong war—a war against the people. That is what mobilising the last energies of Tembo to fight the progressive "pro-poor budget" amounts to.

Nothing sensible to talk about Aford, not even a complete sentence.

But MCP is wrongly living its principle of "stability". And in a self-destructive manner too. The party is literally failing to progress with the wishes and changing needs of the people. Tembo’s voters need cheap fertiliser—now or never! By promising in advance Salima months ago that "the opposition would reject the budget this year"—way before the budget was ready, he has killed his political career with three shots.

First, Tembo has undermined his claim that he is the genius behind "universal fertiliser subsidy" because a man with such wisdom and human welfare at heart cannot mobilise the holy constitutional spirit that shoots down the budget of the people.

Secondly, he has betrayed that the present rejection of budget is a long premeditated crime against the people. Indeed, it has been being premeditated from 2004 as a way of punishing Bingu for bowing out of the UDF and forming his own DPP. That is why Section 65 and its related court injunction against the Speaker is not the cause, and cannot be the cause of the rejection of the people’s (our) budget.

Section 65 is a bluff set to blindfold all of us who support the spirit of constitutionalism into supporting someone’s hidden motive. But hidden motives are consistently of an evil nature and harmful. Or else, why hide a pure motive meant for the common good?

As long as Section 65 and the injunction against the Speaker are not the real causes behind the rejection of our budget, then, it does not follow that the lifting of that injunction will mean the passing of the budget.

Someone’s political algebra was: let us fool the people into supporting our hidden motive (the unknown) behind what the courts, civil society, and the media will agree is a necessity for democracy. The last fellow I remember applying this logic waited for Adam and Eve to go hungry (waited for a necessity to come), told them a needed truth that if they ate a particular fruit they would know what is good from what is bad.

But the Biblical Lucifer immediately followed it with a hidden lie for a hidden motive that all will be well. Nothing went well ever after, not even for fellow himself who fell to the deepest depths where upon landing he said: "Better be a king in Hell than a slave in Heaven", as Paradise Lost dramatises the story.

The opposition reasoning is Lucifer’s Logic or daemonic political logic because it parades the face of good (the Constitution) to implement a social evil, that is a hidden motive meant to serve vengeance rather than the common good of society. The last people I expect to allow themselves to be duped are servants of God leading a Church Synod.

There is a fundamental difference between a reason or cause (the real motive) of an action and an excuse, a scapegoat, indeed a bluff. Rational human behaviour demands that we must perceptively trace and respond to the real motives rather than quarrelling around a mere bluff —Section 65. Yet, most analysts are responding to Section 65 instead of the root cause. Curing symptoms.

Tembo has allowed himself to be deceived into losing the 2009 elections because he wants to maintain the status quo in the party. He wrongly wants to rule but cannot allow reason to rule in the party. He is a symbol of stability himself, which does go together with social change and progress. And too much stability becomes reactionary. Stability is a contradiction to progress.

Search for Reason

With Preident Mutharika’s leadership, the DPP is truly living its principle of being progressive. It means moving to new political frontiers, meaning taking risks. Section 65 is a big risk, and anyone crossing the floor means taking this risk. But without risks, there can never be progress.

Again, the DPP government has been extremely good at testing the Constitution—a necessary measure in the growth of our democracy, which others wrongly deem as being unconstitutional. The UDF regime made it, now it is being tested. And the Constitution needed this testing for it to mature, now we know its weaknesses more than ever.

We have tested and found Section 65 wanting for example. Indeed, there cannot be any member of any "party represented in Parliament" at the "time of elections" (Section 65) while the Parliament is "stands dissolved" during the general elections (Section 67). The House of Assembly does not exist during general elections until the elected candidates have to become MPs upon swearing in. Which Parliament is Section 65 talking about indeed? We need the Constitutional Review to consider this seriously again.

To some, point out weaknesses in the Constitution is sacrilege. It needs not be. We cannot live as though people or democracy were made for the Constitution when, in fact, the Constitution was made for human welfare.

This storm is a major redefinition of our democracy. The way people have spoken on the budget, now MPs know what "people power" means. But those who have rejected the budget will truly know in 2009—never to take the electorate for granted. That is what democracy must be.

Now that the people have spoken, parliamentarians must now learn to exist and conduct themselves for a reason—the people.

-The Nation

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