Yes. You heard me correctly: ignore Bushiri at your own political peril (read political defeat). For some reasons, speculation is none of my anatomy but you see, Papa (or is it Pope?)Major 1 Prophet Shepard Bushiri ( due to space limitation accorded to this article, allow me to denote him with just “Bushiri” although all protocols have been observed – thus where I have used the name Bushiri barely without the associated colours and titles, please feel to add as many suffixes as you can) has more than countable times hinted that he has no and harbors none of the political ambitions. In his own words, seeking ownership of title-deed of plot Number 1 in Area 41, (state house) will be a demotion to him. He routinely asserts the supremacy of his prophetic calling to the state presidency.
Bushiri has proved to be long handed even to those that have approached him. And when he gives, he gives in full measure. Not only does he do it in full measure, but he also does it frequently in high impact areas – areas where the votes do numerically matter such as sports and food relief.
Declaration of “assets” and interest is not done honestly in Malawi – as some scary liquid cash in bedrooms is rarely listed on form – but allow me to do so now: I am neither a follower of Bushiri nor his fun. But I find him too visible to ignore. I have neither met nor interacted with him. If an opportunity avails itself and with his permission I will ask serve him with several questions on issues that do not add up to me: the source of his wealth being one such question. But again, he is not obliged to tell me so I can as well just speculate.Of course it is not an anathema to seek a lesser societal role but I have no reason to doubt his declaration and stance so far. As a public figure, I am sure he knows the calamity that befalls on those who do not stick to their pronouncements. However, given the fact that nobody knows the inner motives of Bushiri except God and himself, I am at liberty to speculate -against my usual habit- a myriad probabilities between now and 2019.
As somebody endowed with conspicuousness not only to Malawi but the entire continent, Bushiri inevitably ought to be a source of calculated speculation to the incumbent regime. Put plainly, DPP should not ignore Bushiri at all cost. None of the breathing creatures in Malawi has any political and strategic missile to dislodge DPP other than Bushiri and that is why he should not be completely ruled. I will revert to key angles from which Bushiri poses a formidable threat to DPP in a moment. I know for toddlers of political analytics, Dr Chakwera is DPP’s threat. This is the cheapest analysis you can buy on the market and can only be done by those who pride in suppressing data that defy their politically charged hypothesis.
I hate to say it but DPP is too sophisticated for the unprepared MCP. MCP’s arsenals and strategies (if there are any) are just either so amateurish or archaic to counter DPP’s. In any case, MCP is packed with “veterans” whose Pareto (maximum) satisfaction level is just putting on a an MP badge. The party is just sickly comfortable being in opposition and pseudo-ruling the central region “parliamentarily”. If you ask those that contend otherwise, their only variable of analysis is the level of blunders committed by DPP. What a cheap analysis!
You see, winning the polls in 2019 (just like any) is a combination of push and pull factors. Push factors (such as DPPs current blunders) and pull factors (strategy of the alternative, MCP in this case) are what cause an opposition party to win. If push factor was the only variable, MCP would have won in 2014 because it was the better devil compared to DPP. Beyond roping in Sidik Mia (I will tackle this in my next episode) and listing down the blunders of DPP, the strategy of MCP is not clear.
Chakwera thus remains a very marketable product surrounded by zealous marketers who prefer to sell a cup of tea at 12 noon in the month of October in Chikwawa district and a bottle of cold coke in Dedza at 5 am 8th June. In the processes, Dr. Chakwera is a loner in the game surrounded by people who cannot translate, dilute and simplify into edible and audible products the deep insights and expositions bundled in his parliamentary utterances to the rural masses: Rest in Peace!
It appears I suffer from “digressiosis” – the tendency of frequently digressing from main topic. I promised to prickle the angles from which Bushiri can never be ignored politically.
First, and this is obvious: none of the marketing gurus in the country can outsmart Bushiri’s team in the trade. Bushiri’s strength is not his money but his ability to assemble the best PR and marketing team that does just the right thing: selling the Bushiri brand. It is the strategy that takes the brand to those that dont believe in him whereas for those that subscribe to his prophetic modus operandi, get further addictive concortion.
Only DPP’s 2009 campaign team comes close to Bushiri’s current marketing squad in scores. Bushiri’s own penchant for world class and quality events and marketing processes leaves the present parties in iron age. His pursuit for quality events has undoubted potential to shake even a district considered a bedroom of any present party. Ignore him at your wish! You can administer a self-appeasing pill that people cant take him serious that far but try putting your rally close to his and see if you can have a tenth of his legions!
Secondly, in a poverty laden society of ours, the power of generosity and handouts should never be discounted. Bakili Muluzi knew this and rightly tapped on it. Holding the mystery that sorround the source of his wealth constant, Bushiri has proved to be long handed even to those that have approached him. And when he gives, he gives in full measure. Not only does he do it in full measure, but he also does it frequently in high impact areas – areas where the votes do numerically matter such as sports and food relief. Now that it is in government, DPPs added advantage is its control of the government purse.
In the present circumstances, the only formidable force to dislodge DPP needs to have equal resources or more than resources commanded by DPP (which is the sum of DPP’s resources obtained legitimately and illegitimately). Is anybody capable of vouching apart from the Major one?
Politics is about people and being able to connect with the masses. Bushiri scores well in this regard. While he has managed to create the impression that he is highly secured person (see the body guards that surround him), Bushiri has capably proved that he can be easily accessed by any interested group. Forget about the consultations that I hear you need to book and pay, but it is equally confirmed that he does meet any group of individuals that want to meet him – of course to beg. Nothing excites an ordinary man than easiness to meet a high profile personnel. While the DPP diehards compete in crowding out the people that want access to the leader, Bushiri’s team opens up and diligently allows in audiences with him amidst his tight schedule. Am I reading too much?
Fourthly, the impact of physical energy levels in any candidate is of enormous important. Out of the current line-up, Bushiri is the most youthful and energetic of all. In case you did not know: the leadership convention nowadays is for leaders to control their body weight and remain fresh as much as possible. A friend just confirmed how Bushiri manages to personally handle maize distribution from the first to the last person even under the scotching sun. Fitness is a unique discipline and if he was to embark on whistle stop tour, he would be the least tired but most productive campaigner.
Fifthly, a leader in the making sits close to those who have been there before. Isnt this what Bushiri is doing? Isnt he close to Joyce Banda and Brown Mpinganjira? And what explains the string of politicians such as Lucious Banda, Bon ‘Winiko Kalindo, Kamlepo Kalua and now Enoch Chihana in the circle of Bushiri if it is not to imbibe and understand the architecture of the politics and state presidency in Malawi? And what of politicians from other countries?
Finally, and this is where everything makes much sense, Bushiri left Malawi with a broken heart of a prophet without honour in his home. He was simply rejected. He was observably bitter and made a number of utterances that confirmed his frustration with Malawi’s rejection of his mission. He verbally fought back those that questioned his “authenticity”. In some cases, he literally called for a lesson on those who prided in embarrassing him. That was the Bushiri of 4 years ago. A Bushiri who could fight back if confronted.
We now have a Paul from that Saul. He has expanded his patience and calmness zone. He is ready to explain in greater detail to those who question his wealth and way of doing things. He is further ready to school and lecture those that aspire to make it big in business. But why this sudden change? Why is he now so eager to clear his and demystify himself? Is it maturity? Or it is that he can no longer afford to fight back the people that he will need soon? Whatever answer, he should not be ruled out!
Those who have been equally unlucky in getting a wife of their dream after numerous rebuffs know that any man who came close to their lady then was never discounted. Possibility of a coup was never ruled out. After all, he equally had all the tools to get her. Am I suggesting that Bushiri intends to stand as President for Malawi? Surely No. All I am saying is that he can only be ignored at one’s political peril!
- Benson Lombe PhD – (University of Cape Town Graduate School of Business)