Grace, favor and mercy. If I have to sound religious in describing People’s Party’s (PP) ascendancy to power in April 2012, these are the words to be used. Of course that came from the tragic and sudden death of former President Bingu wa Mutharika. But Joyce Banda had endured enough with Democratic Progressive Party’s (DPP) Vice President Curse. She deserved some breathing time.
She had to quickly show her leadership by leading the nation in mourning its President and making sure politics was kept aside. The moment was an opportune time to establish herself as woman for a crisis bearing in mind the attempts that were made to have her not assume power. Just like President Bakili Muluzi when Kamuzu Banda died in 1997, Joyce Banda approached the moment with maturity.
After the man was buried, it was time for politics. DPP was in opposition for the first time, but with some sense of being robbed of power. It is supposed to be done through the ballot, not the casket. Thus they re-organized themselves for general elections in two years’ time. They promised a campaign that has never been seen before. But not many took them seriously. The party was thought to have squandered its opportunity to rule and not many were looking forward to have it back in power.
But it was message enough for Joyce Banda and PP. The pressure it created triggered a series of mistakes from the then ruling party. She started leading the nation as some organization and was never shy of saying how much she had convinced donors back. Besides that she was always telling the nation suggestions donors had made for the economy to bounce back. She went on to launch a populist project of building small houses for selected people. As if that was not enough, Cashgate happened in 2013. It was a squander of public finances that was closely associated with PP officials.
With DPP on the other hand catching up, MCP rebuilding itself and PP clearing itself from the mess, fate had already descended upon Malawi politics. May 2014, PP was condemned to the opposition with a third position. It was the first time a ruling party lost power in Malawi. DPP ascended to power. MCP went for its usual opposition leadership. PP went wandering with Joyce Banda fleeing from Malawi.
She is still there till today and PP remains a certified nomad. Joyce Banda has throughout attempted to lead the party from outside. It was possible during the first days when people still had hope of her coming. She would meet the party leadership in South Africa. It was all well until one man, Uladi Mussa, reminded the party that Joyce Banda’s five year mandate ended in August 2017 after its convention in the same month of 2012.
The party was commended for the convention. It was a democratic stamp on its record. Joyce Banda and Khumbo Kachali expectedly took the lead as President and Vice President, respectively. The convention was a break from most parties’ tendency of appointing people into positions. But it is not good until it lasts. It was just a brief moment of righteousness for the party before hell broke loose. And it all ended in May 2014.
Joyce Banda’s lead has been challenged. Uladi Mussa is correct. The party is simply not strong enough to accept what he is saying. There is a need for another convention and leadership. After being interim President, he saw the gap and proposed what must be done. This was meant to re-position the party for 2019. As a response, the party’s disciplinary committee summoned him to a disciplinary hearing. He chose not to show up and yesterday, October 10, 2017, Malawi Broadcasting Corporation (MBC) reported that he has been fired from the party.
This is a cowardly response from the party. Uladi Mussa, although being naïve, was right. Joyce Banda is not coming back anytime soon. The party has to move on from her. Just as she was elected from the convention, it was only right that she gets out through the same way. But clinging to power, which is being led by her errand people in the party, is not helping.
But it sounds like the party still has something to offer. Malawi politics is too cruel for parties that do not move with democratic time. The United Democratic Front (UDF) suffered the same fate. PP should learn from its ancestral party and behave otherwise. But no, the party thinks the same old ways will save its leader. Perhaps this will be reason it will not matter in 2019. If it mattered less when it was in power, how about when it is not, especially when it has not have leadership for the past three years?
How will Uladi Mussa react to this? Only him knows. But if ever he is thinking of picking a fight with the party, he needs to think twice. Is there anything to fight for in PP? The party is as good as it was never there. Uladi Mussa has to look his future outside PP, and history says he will. We should never forget that his other name is change golo.