I want to think Malawi is currently a blank canvas, trying hard to find someone worthy as president in the 2025 elections. I know it is just the beginning of 2024, and I am early to say this, but the current political climate makes one lose hope. However, it is our reality we brought ourselves.
Before I start expressing my thoughts, let me st that I am no political commentator. I love sharing my amateur political views from time to time.
On the 28th of June, 2020, one of the most monumental events happened in Malawi. After a long fight, the majority of the citizens got what they wanted. The change of leadership and a new stamp of hope for change. It is 2024; whoever carries that hope is naive and paranoid. That hope has long been crashed, and the ship has sunk.
Currently, we stand in a dilemma asking each other who will lead this country in 2024. Will we allow incumbent Dr Lazarus Chakwera to continue leading us to “Canaan” although it feels like we are cycling around a maze thicker than the one in Harry Potter’s Goblet of Fire? Or do we look for someone new?
The Political Climate and Party President’s Drama
Current Political Climate
When President Lazarus Chakwera was elected, Malawians were under the impression that the evils of the past presidency would be of the past. Evils such as corruption and nepotism were the brand of the past leadership, and for the first time, Malawians were tired of being taken on a ride.
One thing we never learn as a country is how politicians say their manifestos like comedians on Comedy Central. Another thing is how quickly they flock to Bakili Muluzi when he summons, considering he is the godfather of lying to Malawians during campaigns. Let me remind you for a minute; it still kills me that he promised a whole village some shoes if elected to the presidency.
Likewise, we gobbled down all that Tonse Alliance said and fantasized about all the differences they would make in the country. Years down, the Canaan we were promised feels so farfetched like the Singapore Peter Mutharika said he was building.
During 2023, we finally were privileged to know the contents of the Tonse Alliance agreement. One term leadership for Chakwera, and another for Saulos Chilima. A thing some top MCP officials have denied vehemently, stating Chakwera will be on the ballot paper in the forthcoming elections.
Already, that’s a table shaken in the Tonse Alliance. The anonymity of who shall be the torchbearer in the 2025 president’s run brings frustrations, but I assume in a good time.
Then there is the never-ending DPP drama. The fracas in their camp bring instability to the mind. When Peter Mutharika lost the presidential seat in 2020, he announced his retirement. At that moment, most people guessed the party’s leadership was up to three people; Kondwani Nankhumwa, George Chaponda, and Bright Msaka.
Unfortunately, two of these characters have secrets which in a first world would have hindered them from being on such discussions.
For so long, there have been rumors that have left holes in Kondwani Nankhumwa’s character. One of them is that his educational background is stolen and it belongs to someone else. Such claims have never been proven to be right. However, there are still possibilities of this being right, that he has been using certificates of an alleged ‘George Malema’. What makes it more questionable, and needs to be proven right or wrong, is the fact that it was his party that brought the allegations to light.
George Chaponda on the other hand, was arrested in 2017 due to his involvement in the Food Import Scandal along with businessman Rashid Tayub. Although a free man now, his involvement in corruption during the time he was a minister made him ineligible.
Bright Msaka on the other hand is seen as the most logical to take leadership, but too quiet to take leadership. His educational background is proof that he might be the caliber to take the position, but he is quite unpopular with a lot of Malawians. I wish to think it is due to his shy-like personality.
However, a division in the party has led Peter Mutharika to announce that he will run for DPP’s presidential seat, so he can be eligible for the 2025 elections. He proclaims this while it is apparent that Nankhumwa is vying for the same position. This has led to a back-and-forth court proceeding between the Nankhumwa and the Mutharika camps.
As incumbent president of DPP, Mutharika stripped Nankhumwa of his Vice Presidency of the South and instead appointed him as an advisor to the party’s president. Likewise, he stripped Grezeldar Jeffrey of her Secretary General position, and instead made her a Vice President of the Central Region. A move to block her from calling a party convention.
Regardless of the many court battles that happened to ensure the positions were not affected, Mutharika emerged winner. Recently, Nankhumwa shared that he would announce his political direction in the coming days.
What this reminds me of is how Chilima left the DPP party. While he did not have to go through legal battles, he was blocked from powers above, the same way that is happening now.
The biggest challenge that is presenting itself is, the lack of unity within the parties and alliance shows how greedy Malawian politicians are to power. One can easily tell that none of the vultures on these seats have the average Malawian interests at the core of their decisions, just the need for personal glory.
Here are some of the challenges that are being faced:
- High Corruption: As of 2022, Malawi’s corruption index was at 37.8, which is high. Currently, the Anti Corruption Bureau no longer gives hope as it did in 2020 when it seemed they were geared to get those involved in various corruption cases prosecuted. But that hope has quickly faded, and one would think that the arrest of Martha Chizuma in 2022 was the turning point for it all. Overall, corruption keeps weakening the economy.
- Nepotism: We would complain about the levels of nepotism during the last administration, but Chakwera’s administration took it a step further. From the onset, it was obvious that a lot of departments were going to be headed by families and not necessarily by credentials. We saw the appointments done at the Office of the President and Cabinet, then saw it again when the first cabinet was announced. It saddens me that when you seek information from people in different government institutions, they make mention of people who have been given various jobs, not by merit, but because of their affiliation with the ruling party.
- Foreign Currency Shortages: Need I explain more? You know a country is not functioning when citizens have to move hills and mountains, shift lakes and rivers, just to find a dollar or two to pay for their streaming services. Imagine in 2023, having a limit of $100 that you are eligible to spend on online payments. Companies have to bribe their way into banks, just to get small amounts of dollars to pay their suppliers.
- Devaluations: Probably the hard-hitting challenge being faced right now is the 44% devaluation that happened in November 2023. Must we not forget that before that, there was a 25% devaluation done in May 2022. Then the Reserve Bank resorted to devaluing the currency by small amounts during forex auctions done with banks. This has pushed prices of commodities upwards, while the average citizen survives on wages that have remained constant for years.
- Affordable Farm Input Program: I wonder when leadership will ever think that this program was a bad idea from the get-go. I’ll chime what many have been screaming for the past years, let Malawians buy cheap fertilizer. Chilima had it in his manifesto, but like I said, these things are jokes to them. In 2024, some villages had less than 10 people receiving cheap fertilizer from a village of 500 or more. In Machinjiri, you had 2 people share a bag of fertilizer, and yet both have farms that need more. This program has proven to be a disaster, and at most, has been the easiest way for people to steal money from it.
I could go on and on about the challenges that are being faced, but the major one is, that citizens no longer have faith in the current leadership. Zero! What we know is we elected someone who likes to travel, and boy did we give him the lottery ticket to travel as much as he can, while he can. I have never seen a president who does not like staying in his country. I lie, Buhari made it worse for Nigerians, but maybe that’s where Chakwera draws his inspiration from.
What is even worse is that there is no sign that we are getting a candidate who can sit in the president’s seat and turn this mess around. Furthermore, having someone like Peter Mutharika take back the position is risky. The man is too old, and we’d risk having to plan another…. I’ll take back my thoughts.
If you could ask Malawians who they would likely vote for in the September 2025 elections for president, you’d get three different answers. I’ll categorize them as follows:
- Never Again: this is the response I keep getting from some of the people I ask. The reason, is they have been too disappointed with the person they voted for and how he is steering the wheel that they would rather never vote again. I noticed that I keep getting this response from people who are 50 and above, those who needed to convince themselves that it was right to vote for MCP because the atrocities committed during the one-party era are still fresh in their minds. And here they are being let down again.
- Better the Devil I know: these are the people who have convinced themselves that the DPP leadership is better than what they are currently witnessing. I have heard this a lot in minibuses where people chime “DPP used to steal, but that money would trickle down to us. These guys are stealing and the money keeps circulating between them while we suffer”. I’ll let you digest that by yourself.
- These guys, I guess: these are the people who were so disgusted by DPP’s leadership, they do not like this leadership either but do not know where else to go. They wish for someone new to show up on the scene, but in the scenario that no one does, they stick to their lesser evil
Now, with Nankhumwa stating that he might share his political direction in the coming days; a lot of people have started fantasizing that the best thing for him would be to partner with Chilima. Chilima to position as the president, while he becomes his vice. This is a fantasy I find to be farfetched, but the political environment in Malawi is too volatile that we cannot rule it out.
However, with 50+1 still being the mark to cross to get that president’s seat, I can assume that we will see more alliances coming up. And boy, will we be up for a show.
Share with me your thoughts on the topic in the comment section below.