Obsessed with elections

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Obsessed with elections
Obsessed with elections

Africa-Press – Malawi. Looking at how frenzied the political landscape has all of a sudden become in Malawi, a stranger would be forgiven for concluding we will be going to the tripartite elections in the next two months.

It is about three years and four months since Malawians elected the current government at the June 23 court-ordered presidential poll. We have about a year and seven months before we return to the ballot to elect ward councillors, members of Parliament (MPs) and a president.

Of course, the fact that we will be electing MPs and councillors six years after the current crop, except for instances where by-elections were conducted, could contributing the ‘early’ election frenzy.

Perhaps, we got so much used to having elections every five years—all elections—such that the current scenario looks awkward. But there, essentially should be no justification for this obsession.

Both the government and opposition sides are all over the country clearly mobilising voters to look at them with favour come election day in September next year.

Officials from the governing Malawi Congress Party (MCP) are disguising their re-election campaign with the so-called development rallies that they conduct every moment they conclude a public event.

They are distributing materials such as wrappers, t-shirts and caps to anyone willing to get the items. In fact, they are openly canvassing for their party’s leader President Lazarus Chakwera and have made it clear that he intends to extend his mandate beyond September next year.

The opposition itself, mainly led by former governing Democratic Progressive Party (DPP), is going everywhere in the country to mobilise its supporters and swing voters to give it votes at the election. The only problem with DPP is the incessant bickering, which are making it rather difficult for the party to march ahead with a united force.

There is a section that keeps rooting for former president Peter Mutharika to represent the party at the 2025 elections, even though another school of thought suggests Mutharika will actually not stand, as someone he anoints would likely become DPP’s torchbearer.

In fact, that appears to be the major cause of the chaos in the party. There are those who posit that the cabal that is supporting the former president’s candidature is in fact doing that to systematically ostracise those who would want to compete against Mutharika’s anointed candidate at the party’s convention.

Well, that could be a discussion for another day. What is the issue now is political parties’ obsession with elections to the point that everything else risks coming to a standstill as they jostle for the attention of potential voters.

At the end, the voters themselves are the biggest losers. Here is a governing party that is so obsessed with the next election that its officers will use every opportunity they have to address the people to implicitly ask for votes.

It is obvious that every public project that will be being implemented moving forward will have some political elements, especially to do with the next election.

DPP itself, of course already mired in unceasing squabbles, cannot provide the required checks and balances because of its preoccupation with the next election as well. It appears to be UTM party only whose fixation on the next poll is less pronounced.

Of course, there are reasons for that situation: Its leader Saulos Chilima finds himself in an awkward position regarding whether he should come out now to declare his stand regarding the poll.

Last time, he dumped DPP and formed UTM as he attempted to wrestle power from Mutharika—his boss— at the 2019 presidential elections whose results were later nullified by the courts.

Now, he has to carefully calculate his next move. Is he going to declare soon that he will no longer be part of Tonse Alliance at the 2025 tripartite elections? It appears his own senior officials are in a dilemma as far as the direction of the party in relation to the elections is concerned.

It should be particularly frustrating for them having a party leader who remains reticent in moments when his supporters want him to tell them where they are going.

Well, maybe UTM will soon join the election frenzy and confirm that no party is really interested in the welfare of Malawians but the next election. That is why with more than one-and-a-half years away from the tripartite polls, there is this ridiculous fever by political parties.

The problem is that even the Malawi Electoral Commission faces challenges in terms of identifying which messages border on election campaign but are being churned out over a year before the official campaign period is declared.

We need more conversations on this so that stringent measures at taken on those who flout election campaign procedures and take the whole period between polls as campaign time.

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