News that Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) senior members are forcing lawmakers to publicly endorse President Peter Mutharika as the party’s torchbearer exactly a year before elections makes a bad reading.
The endorsements come against the background of some DPP members declaring their support for Vice-President Saulos Chilima to stand for the presidency in the 2019 Tripartite Elections.
So, DPP’s democratic transition is back in the spotlight.
Of course, gathering party members to garner support for a preferred candidate is not wrong.
The concern though is the blindly loyal DPP subjects that are busy orchestrating means of hindering some National Executive Committee positions’ – including the presidency – hopefuls in the yet-to-be-announced convention in favour of their preferred ‘godfather’.
The challenge to DPP’s success is not the emergent interest by some new faces in contesting in various positions, including the presidency, nor Mutharika’s perceived moles, but the use of monarchic politics to promote narrow personal interests. It is greed. And greed is inimical to democratic advancement in any polity.
Again, it is documented that political leaders often exploit such loyalty to advance personal gain, parochial interests, patronage and cronyism.
Malawi and other countries across Africa have evolved a hodgepodge of public affairs management systems which fail to facilitate democracy and instead seem to entrench a culture of cautious authoritarianism manifested in lack of intraparty democracy.
But if the country is to achieve development it much desires, there is need to promote coexistence regardless of divergent views.
The country deserves leaders who will give people enduring hope and great expectations; leaders who must work with dissent, condemn corruption and incompetence in its own ranks and avoid unconstitutionalities.
Such leaders would allow anyone willing to challenge Mutharika for the DPP presidency, including a chance, to campaign freely among the party’s faithful.
This country needs leaders who will take advised action without fear of backlash; leaders who will maintain a reputation for integrity against the desire to maintain office.
DPP tug-of-war on who to lead the party in the 2019 Tripartite Elections can only be fairly sorted out by free and fair elections at a democratically arranged convention. That is the democracy Malawians voted for in 1993.