2009 General Elections-Running Campaign- the Muluzi factor

Of course there is still much talk of the national porno scandal that has gripped the cities. The Police have moved in, though the only amazing silence is from the church. I am however back on my desk and looking foward to the National registration excercise in readness for the elections slated for 18th August. I have not seen any visible civic education except few running adverts in print and electronic media. I am sure that who ever is supposed to worry of this election, knows that civic education is a crucial component of any successful election. Having said that I believe both the Nation Publications and Blantyre Newspapers deserve a commendation by trying to keep the elections story covered, though there is very little on the ground to suggest that parties themselves take the elections seriously. I have only seen Bakili Muluzi move about here and there in the Southern Region, while I am yet to hear Bingu, apart from the Zomba rally that declared the manucipality into a city I am yet to attend a rally of his Democratic Progressive Party (DPP). Malawi Congress Party (MCP) President John Tembo has been to some districts but addressing just main rallies and the majority have been in Lilongwe.
This has sent me into thinking, that perhaps, only Bakili Muluzi, the former President of the Republic and now trying to stage a comeback is serious about next year elections. The guys has run three successful campaign, upstaging potential winners and no one can really underestimate his influence.
In 1994, all things being equal, the late Chakufwa Chihana should have been the President. The guy dared the Lion of Malawi in 1992 and it resulted into a referendum whose results are now part of our history.
But there is a Bakili Muluzi factor that I have been looking into for the last few months.
I am not sure if anyone will want to admit this, but in reality, the self christened "political engineer" seems to be well ahead of his rivals. That is assuming those rivals to be President Bingu wa Munthariak and John ZU Tembo.
The guy whose 2004 announcement in April that his party would field Mutharika and Cassim Chilumpha caused resignations of revered UDF founders like Aleke Banda and Harry Thomson. But Muluzi knew his game, the time factor. He managed to dismantle the criticism by coming up with a convention to endorse his candidates and gave himself ample time to campaign.
Now the MCP I believe it is a party that has been there for long, but it has missed the boat for several elections, becuase mainly it could not match the UDF prowess in funding and running a campaign.
The other problem of the MCP is its structure, I do not see many of its National Executive members travelling beyond their districts and regions and pull crowds when the address rallies in other regions.
He is also yet to call for a convention and serious scout for big names to stand for the party in the Northern and Southern Regions. I wish he had more time for these regions as he has 800,000 votes in the central region and needs at least 500,000 more to be secure and get the presidency. Otherwise, it is only Bakili who seems to still have big names in regions, the Stambuli's, Uladi's in the centre and Chande Mhone and Kajiso's in the North.
The MCP machinery for elections also leaves a lot to be desired, there is no think tank for the party, no media team and no direct access to its leaders by many of those that just want to drop tips.
There are people in Malawi whose blood had they been given a choice would have been MCP's green colour, but they do not see how they would be part of the MCP.
Chimango run the campaign of 1999, I am not sure if it was Late Kate Kainja and Bintony Kutsaira who run the 2004, but one thing for sure coordination was not there at all, especially at the collaration of results.
UDF had its own centre-now defamed as rigging centre, but its monitors and candidates knew where to send results immediately after counting that they were able to monitor the outcome fatser than the Electoral Commission. I hope MCP will learn to put its structure in order, after all it gets a lot of money from Parliament to start developing proper machinery now for the election. Consultancy-I think I will let it pass, but can make recommendations.
After MCP there is the DPP, a relatively new comer. Unfortunately in its hierachy I do not see anyone who has ever been directly involved in preparing for an election and campaign of a massive type.
Most of them got the end result from some of senior people in UDF who relied heavily on other groups of advisors to frame a campaign strategy.
Being a new comer DPP should have been in full swing campaign, not the cheap radio propaganda that only manages to remind Malawians that Bakili Muluzi still exists.
The DPP does not have a base, forget what its politicians tell it, I am someone who has worked in Malawi and political field from assessments to pure politics at any level.
DPP needs to identify its leadership with grassroot level, radio plays complimentary role in creation of faces that have already visited them. I find it amusing that a serious party that has just come is failing to hold a convention and conduct primaries in constituencies where it does not have sitting MP's.
This is a recipe for disaster, while a Mrs Banda is already a candidate for the UDF in Balaka North, DPP aspirants are busy jostling among themselves and they will definately stand independent after loosing. Human greed is more evident than principles. In politics greed is pronounced as a strategic decision and people's will.
UDF and MCP are conducting primaries, PPM is conducting constituency elections, where is the DPP, the supposedly ruling party.
The DPP does not have time on its side, it needs to identify its base. I have been in Mangochi, Balaka and Machinga for the last three weeks, I am yet to see where these people who claim DPP has made inroads to mention a village which would massively vote for DPP. I can so far in the Eastern region only name Joyce Banda a safe candidate in the whole region. Forget the Yunus Mussa or others claims. The region is hardcore UDF and it needs huge investments now and not tommorrow to get the Presidential vote and few lucky independent seats. David Ngulinga could be another safe due to miscaculations by UDF that they should field the rejected former MP.
Now, as I has said before, in the North Harry Mkandawire is playing the same adamant game he played in 2004 and 1999 where he thought people vote names and not character.
I am sure the only position he can predict confortably is that of Professor Peter Mwanza standing as a candidate for the party in Mzuzu City. The man is revered and a future leader for the region with no centralised figure of power after Late Chakufwa Chihana and Late Rodwell Munyenyembe.
Aleke Banda and Goodall Gondwe are potential leaders but their activities have been restricted to Tukumbo and Mzimba than the whole of the region.
Consultancy for the DPP, it might be too late.
Free advice to the two; learn from Muluzi's elections structure, bring new fresh ideas, hold conventions and primaries and rely on first hand contact with the voters.
Muluzi otherwise, all things being equal is far ahead in campaigning- He started in April 2008 after all!!!


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