In this comeback entry after a long break, Mallick Mnela dismisses the stories of political bickering in the MCP-UTM stable. He argues political divisiveness is often a result of machinations of individuals who create non-existent political problems for individual political clout and self enrichment. Read more for his insights.
I woke up to a WhatsApp message from a friend boastfully reminding me of how she had warned me that the romance in the Tonse Alliance won’t last long.
My response was the very same, old one: The insatiable appetite for conflict in the Malawian political space is nauseating. But, of course, I disagreed there was bickering worth writing about!
I told her, however, that there is a need for reconfiguration of people’s perspective of politics, across the board.
The first to be reconfigured are grassroots politicians. They protect their political terrain by engaging in unnecessary battles, creating storms in coffee mugs just to sustain some semblance of relevance. Not all – but a majority of grassroots politicians lie a lot! But trust me the lying is to create an urgent need for resources to trickle in from headquarters to come and help quell the situation.
I lectured my good friend that the alleged bickering in the MCP/UTM Tonse Alliance is nothing but a staged attention seeking gimmick aimed at milking political masters.
Come to think of it, in a situation where MCP and UTM political structures are seen as equals, the political significance of the other diminishes in its utility. Only conflict can create justification for resources beyond monthly bills at party regional or district levels. And that money is more for self-enrichment and earning political dominance for the participating individuals.
What I am saying is that the bickering has no basis whatsoever- it’s characteristic of who we have chosen to behave, politically.
Political divisiveness is often a result of machinations of individuals. They mask it into a consensus problem while deep down knowing it’s about individual political clout and self enrichment.
We need to understand that other than the knack to appropriate wealth as a result of political conflict, we can collectively do better working together. Political diversity can only thrive if we go past the “us-against-them-mentality”.
Instead of believing that MCP and UTM are bickering at grassroots level, I want to believe they are individually building their structures.
To expect those in the Tonse Alliance stable to stop working on building resilience of their structures at the grassroots across the country would be sliding into autocracy. Grassroots politicking, on it’s own, is not wrong. The alliance benefited from these very structures and such politicking.
What is wrong is the mentality that the synergies that bound the two political entities together should be teared down because the milestone was achieved.
Instead, the realisation that the strength of the Tonse Alliance lies in MCP and UTM’s political autonomy and clout will avoid rocking the boat.
Of course, the only exception is if only the initial deal vitiated all acts of intra-alliance democracy, which would be problematic in a democratic system of politics.
President Dr. Lazarus Chakwera and Dr. Saulos Chilima have a responsibility to the nation, not their individual parties. So far, their leadership has demonstrated intolerance to seeds of divisiveness and yet here we are! By the way, these two pose a greater risk to Professor Peter Mutharika’s DPP together!
Actually, Madam Patricia Kaliati and Mr. Eisenhower Mkaka – as Chief Executive Officers (CEOs) of the UTM and MCP respectively – must see to it that rewards are not invested in fuelling conflict or political bickering. Their individual parties must incentivise a sense of political camaraderie, not fighting!
So far, they have done a great job by keeping away party wearing supporters from state events – a major success considering how past regimes were not interested in losing their cheerleaders while on government duty.
I very much know that partisan individuals will see fault and politically naivety in what I am saying. It is because they are wired to win by being the loudest, the most prominent at gossiping and cutting corners. But going against what I am saying would mean the Tonse Government sold Malawians a dummy.
I reiterate the call for Dr. Chakwera and Dr. Chilima to rise above the mediocrity that we have grown accustomed to and show that political diversity has it’s own positives. Besides, no party can have monopoly – or, rather, no two parties can have an oligopoly of running the country while excluding the rest.
The two leaders must also dispel the misconception that a President and his vice will always be in contestation for power, more so if they are from different political parties.
The Tonse philosophy should be about blurring partisan interests on matters of national development. There is no better opportune time to experiment on allowing people of differing political opinions to champion goals to develop our nation without incentivised divisiveness and political bickering.
My heart bleeds when one’s political opinion of yesteryear should be a yardstick to determine one’s qualification for a job in the new government. It smacks of an attitude that political connectedness matters more than academic or competencies.
This attitude will perpetuate a culture of us-against-them. This behaviour of association-by-political-color will continue to haunt us. We shall always focus our energies on getting government from “Party A” instead of focusing on creating a government for all.
I am reliably informed that the so-called bickering is being prompted by some self-serving individuals trying to be relevant by playing firefighters to earn favours for ending their own problems or just dourse water on the fireplace so that none should eat.
I listened very well to the speech by the President at his inauguration at Kamuzu Barracks. That was one of his best – or his best ever since I got to know him as a politician. His expression of a desire to collapse all barriers to a united Malawi in which all have equal opportunities comes prominent.
But podium sweetness without action is not good enough. If he talked of a Malawi better for all to earn opportunities accruing to their interests, competencies, qualifications and/or get sanctions in proportion to their misdeeds- not based on political patronage – then why should we really invest so much in dividing ourselves?
Seeing ordinary PAs for cabinet ministers being fired for “crimes” the president had granted prior pardon and amnesty for is a demonstration of a people so rigid for change.
Victimisation of “reformed cadets” and rewarding ” Tonse Yufi” doesn’t seem to solve our political problems or an attempt to heal ourselves, for example. The Tonse government would rather create a competitive environment that, ultimately, will earn them respect.
Employment should never be done through the political corridors – there are government Human Resource practitioners for that. And are we not in the middle of some Reform wave, right now?
The bickering that is reportedly simmering is symptomatic of the appropriation of systemic responsibilities of the state by politicians. Politicians in the Tonse Alliance must realise the advantages of letting HR practitioners handle employment issues. If politically connected people are recruited through the established recruitment structure, even via head hunting, there would be some plausible deniability.
There must be a way of showing that going forward – meritocracy and where appropriate, loyalty, count; but the process must be designed to be as inclusive as possible!
It would be folly for the Tonse Alliance to miss the opportunity to learn about the strength of unity after it earned them the Presidency. Protecting the Presidency will need more cementing of relations than grinding those that ushered the regime into power.
Through national cohesion of all the peoples of Malawi, a Tonse Philosophy can become the pride of our nation and a barrier to break the Tonse Alliance, going forward.
Or in the lexicon of Tonse Alliance Arithmetic, do they add by dividing? Or is Adding and Multiplying relevant during elections only? I doubt!