I call both President Bingu wa Mutharika and Aleke Banda my grandfathers. None of them would certainly remember how much they have conrtibuted to a youth programme I set up under the banner Malawi National Youth Dialogue around 2002 to 2004. Bingu was nominated as one of the programme advisors and we spoke breifly at Mount Soche over the proposal. He was a busy Deputy Central Governor then. AKB, as he is fondly called he granted me an audience for almost 30 minutes, listened to the proposal which he was supposed to co-Chair at the National advisory level. He made a cash donation and the funds were used to support young peole that had travelled to Zimbabwe for a SADC youth programme. I was quite shocked on return from the Zimbabwe elections that Bingu in his wisdom had decided to drag AKB into the political mess of the Malawi Congress Party regime, including the human rights abuses that occured then. I am sure most people actually expressed "shock and disbelief" about the attack which one senior politician described it as a "goof of the year."
I am waiting for the day AKB will publish his memoirs, yes as a young man, if one walks into the National library archives he will find photo's of AKB then as Minister of Information, Toursim and whatever. At one point he had more ministries under his belt save for Dr. Kamuzu Banda. He was just in his early 30's then. But Kamuzu renowned for quality and discipline-must have seen something to empower this young man politically as well as in the cabinet.
During my year at Harvard, the worlds prestigious college, a professor from Kennedy School of Government who was chased in 1978 and returned to Malawi in 1994 as a political and governance consultant for Muluzi administration showed me a letter of offer from Harvard of 1968 to AKB offering him a place of study. Today Harvard is worth close to 29 billion dollars, but an offer at such school for an African is very rare. Even the outside world recognising him at such an age-is a sure candidate and image we can use to promote youth development.
The record of AKB is evident when he was a joint commander of the MYP, his statements well documented shows a spirit of hard work, patriotism and encouraging Young people to grow into independent citizens.
Even after detention, after the Tukombo ban and after multi-party, no one can point a finger at AKB and say he insulted me.
Journalists remember him as the easiest and approachable Minister in Muluzi administration, but many will remember him for his generosity and advice even when he does not know the person.
I recall the first PPM convention, one of the contestant had t-shirts for his supporters only. I heard women pestering AKB to buy them too their own.
He answered, "I want you to go to place ...., collect money and buy uniforms for all the women and t-shirts." He even conviced supporters of his challenger that he had a heart to care for them.
During lunch I betted K1,000 that he will make it to the prty presidency, five Journalists betted against. They withdrew their bets 20 minutes later.
While lunch had been prepared at Lilongwe Hotel for Executive members and most of them rushed there, AKB stood on line with everyone and ate from the NRC cafetaria. He allowed people to take photo's of him with them and kept smiling till the night though he was tired.
His record as a Minister speaks volumes and his work ethics and discipline can be testified by many.
As a Journalist after Muluzi used him to clean up the Ministry of Finance, Agriculture and Health, he decided to return him to Agriculture. He called for a national management meeting.
He asked people to stand based on their qualifications. There were over 10 PhD holders in the Ministry, over 30 Masters and close to 60 graduates. He asked them a question, "why is Malawi hungry today with such expertise."
After opening he sat down throughout the day and listened to the experts without imposing his opinion. The food situation improved.
One senior officers told me, "AKB motivates and challenges you to be your best. Others are interested in political powers thats why we slumped in production."
Further to his record is his consistency and principled approach to issues. As a freshman MP he commands respect of his peers and has provided the much lacking national face to issues. Today AKB can be rarely compared to some of the "ruffians" in honourable jackets.
Therefore whoever discovered the link between AKB and beating of Bingu's father must have goofed badly unless Government produces such evidence to substiante the President's attack on this noble politician.
As we approach elections, I thought Bingu would be thinking of political alliances and in PPM he has one of those that share his vision and standards-execpt some of his ministers who strive on gossip and character assassination.
Because whether one likes it or not, I am yet to be conviced where President Bingu wa Mutharika's party will convincingly win to reclaim the position after his good works.
The President had great deal of support after dumping the UDF especially after being seen as a "puppet" of the former President.
But he has failed to build on that goodwill and translate it into a formidable political force of all times after Kamuzu Banda.
What is my argument here, DPP will sweep parts of the Northern Region. It should expect problems in Nkhatabay where Aleke commands respect and the love of the people. Fielding elists like Ephraim Chiume in Usisya will be suicidal, better leave Pisho Nkhwazi there e knows the terrain.
I laughed out aloud to hear that Etta Banda will try her luck in Tukombo constituency (Nkhatabay South) against AKB. It is nice to believe in miracles but I dont see this one happening. Even should AKB decide to retire- his annointed successor will carry the day.
I am always at Kande for holidays and I know what I am saying.
DPP problems will further come from Chitipa and Karonga. Chitipa, Bingu left outspoken MP's in his cabinet and opted for the mild ones, he needed the loudest mouths to be his defenders over the road. Whatever the outcome, independents will emerge high in Chitipa and Bingu needs to travel there frequently to difuse any potential threat from Aford, PPM or even MCP.
In Karonga one of the biggest challenges, forget what Dr. Ntaba and company descriptions of internal fights as being "democracy working"
DPP as MCP strongman John Tembo once said is a "collection" of various entities. He used a local adage that you cannot mix, snakes and chickens.
This collection needs to be handled very well and by experienced politicians.
People have tried to pull down Khumbo Kachali in the North, but Khumbo is an achiever, when nobody in the region wanted any association with UDF, he pulled the first ever seat for the party in Mzimba and this feat was also achieved by the great Late Rodwell Munyenyembe.
Bingu will need a system that will allow primaries to take place in the most free and fair environment or failure to do so will result in most of the party guru's who defected from other parties clinging to seats.
DPP does not need to risk independents as it will weaken the party and with very few of them returning back to it even if it forms the next administration.
The same situation exists in the Central Region. The UDF failed to promote Malewezi and any of the Chewa's in the region. The party's districts committee were chaired by businessmen who largely were not from the areas.
The religion/tribal and home of origin factor led to the Chewa regional governors Chakakala Chaziya, Maurice Kachimbwinda and Nkusa Nkhoma falling from power much faster than they went up.
Until Uladi Mussa came then stability reigned.
Now DPP has the same problem. Dr. Ntaba is an original, but his political clout in the region cannot be said to be equal to Tembo nor even his own constituency challenger.
Today DPP need to find fresh faces, recognise them and support them to deliver the central region as a whole. I mean faces that would strongly convince not the confuse the electorate.
I believe late Kate Kainja was strong enough. But I doubt if Bintony Kustaira and Ted Kalebe would change the voting pattern in the central region.
DPP should look for new faces and try them, people that are not arrogant but people who listen. I know several party guru's who are in Uladis' MPP, John Banda's UDF and even AKB's PPM but they have positions in DPP.
I have always had the fascination as a Journalists of getting tips on Government from UDF who openly boasts of having people that they work with.
I have heard of the succession plans and the comments like "DPP" siufumu which were made in secret locations but leaked out much faster than a toilet.
Finally in the South, I am not sure where DPP will win. For Thyolo I would have given Bob Khamisa to be in charged, the guy is honest and knows how to campaign. Bapu is evidence.
Brown Mpinganjira is a factor in Mulanje, Phalombe and Thyolo. Chakuamba is part of the lower Shire. Much as I like Sidik Mia for his role in the Shire valley, but he will have problems to overtake the experienced Mbuya in telling them what is good. Mangochi, Zomba, Balaka, Chiradzulu and Machinga are UDF to win, unless if they mess up during primaries. Mwanza and Blantyre will lean DPP but PPM's Katsonga has invested heavily making Mwanza once again a split area.
Back in the centre, Ntcheu would vote for DPP, but Dedza, Lilongwe, Mchinji, Dowa, Ntchisi, Kasungu and parts of rural Salima will want JZU and his MCP to rule.
Nkhotakota will be split, Chimunthu Banda might add some magic, but some of the areas like Clement Stambuli, Adeni Mbowani and others will return to Parliament or their parties will.
Finally, Mzimba and Rumphi will lean DPP, while Karonga, Chitipa and Nkhatabay are not sure districts for any party, check the last voting pattern and it does not change by over 20 percentange points.\
If someone wants me to do his research on the probability of winning I am available for the consultancy but in confidential basis.
Take the statistics of last year and compare the voting pattern of 2004 you can predict the winner.
However a campaign based on issues like Bingu's record can do a trick if he has a right team committed to selling his brand not the MBC's makiyolobasi way where you put 15 minutes of your opponents and 1 minute to promote your candidate-what a strategy.
DPP needs people who can campaign not the people who for the last three years cannot even set up branches or areas and tell Bingu we will win next election.
DPP should launch a national programme to conduct branch, area, constituency, district,regional and national elections. Otherwise almost 80-percent of the recycled politicians it has will only led it to its down fall.
If someone doubts my argument, please read Parliamentary hansards from 2002 to 2004 and see who made UDF fall from its might position.
Some dangerously now are the key personalities yet they were mere "political boys" to move motions in Parliament.
Attacking AKB is not the best option to win the next election, but try to take back Chakuamba and convince him to run with you. Or else the following will happen next year:
MCP with a strong candidate from south or north as runningmate will pull up to 1.3million only
UDF/Mpinganjira/Chakuamba alliance can manage something like 1million
Bingu's DPP without any alliance would get around 700 thousand to 900.
AKB and smaller alliances: 400 thousand
If I were MCP or DPP, I would pull either Mpinganjira, Chakuamba and AKB otherwise, chaka cha mawa kukhala zovuta ngati someone doesnt go into working extra time.
I will be back to school come new academic year 2009, happy elections to all parties. Tisazawone za ku Kenya or Zimbabwe ayi. Anthu akavota avota.
Finally, I would challenge any party to travel to Msakambewa and do a voice poll, you will be shocked that despite the good tobacco sales, good maize and whatever to them Alice Ntodwa Mwale is an MP and they will vote MCP.
Msakambewa is only 60 kilometres from Lilongwe, politicians can learn the truth if they travel there and find out what this lady does.
Youth vote will also matter greatly during the next election and hopefully someone will remember them postively.
For me, I say, let the best man win as contest starts with Atcheya and Chilumpha fighting!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!