There has been some shocks since campaigned opened. The usual suspects were at it about someone being gravely sick or being flown out. I should know after three campaigns the source of such a campaign and rumours. Its called tit for tat, the moment it was announced that Bakili Muluzi is not eligible to return to office, I expected some sort of reaction. The debate changed towards Bingu.
Further, I was out during the first week of campaign in Addis, where I met wonderful young people. I thought I would be greeted from the Airport with the campaign phernaphelia but lo there was none. I think the parties have opted for radio and a few newspapers to rely their messages.
Interestingly, far from reaching out the masses, I find this campaign as dull. The President is very predictable in what he would say, so too Muluzi. The only one who makes real news and can shock you is John Tembo.
I am looking foward to his campaign launch, it will have suprises enough.
Looking at the other players, Loveness Gondwe has hit the road this week she was in Mangochi, Monkey Bay and Ulongwe, then today in Dedza and Ntcheu. I think the lady has guts, but watching some of the documentaries for Kasungu North and other areas, she might get the much needed five percent to reclaim her deposit.
Dindi Gowa Nyasulu of Aford is yet to enter the Capital, though he does business right at the heart of Kawale, the freedom ground of Masintha is yet to test his muscle. May be I should travel to the North and guage his chances.
Kamuzu Chibambo of Petra and Stanely Masauli for Republican Party are yet to seriously take their messages to Malawians. At least Mark Katsonga Phiri for PPM and Gwanda Chakuamba and his confused New Republican Party seem to be going round and round towards DPP without any clear signs as to what they are offering.
The news then boils back to the major three parties, what a change of landscape. In 1994 it was three parties, MCP, Aford and UDF, now replace Aford with DPP, what a reverse in fortunes for AFORD.
UDF has serious problems which I raised in 2007 that Muluzi has had five years to make a right decision and failed to make one. Whatever the outcome of his case really it does not matter, the decision of MEC difranchises his supporters, eats on his credibility that rising from it really depends of his court case.
However reading between the lines, the best would have been for him as he claims always to stand up and crown another guy as a President. The retire. There is honour in retirement.
Mbeki's schedule since he left Presidency is longer than the incumbent, so too Joachim Chissano, John Kofour and Festus Mogae, suddenly there is more work after retirement. I would wish I had a former President in my country and have youth at AU headquarters, at Universities rush for his autograph and listen to him talk. Muluzi has a gift of talking.
For John Tembo, he holds his immense respect as a principled politician. He might have been a let down during the third term, but has been more principled than many politicians. He has retained his identity and like very few elder men, he speaks many a times words of wisdom.
I have learnt the danger of interprating his statements, he uses adages and proverbs to make his case, he affords many a benefit of doubts and most of the times offers people to hang themselves. He is never predictable but you can use his words, he rarely retracts them. On his campaign he needs to open up now and offer his manifesto to Malawians.
Bingu is a good economic manager, but he need abit of tolerance, his idea reasonates well with the majority of right thinking. He biggest shortfall is the predictability that people are now able to read between the lines. If you criticise him he will arrest you. There is a need for tolerance. On how people vote depends on the design of the campaign, lets see if it can manage to sway the independents to vote for the DPP.
Understanding voters- dont antagonise the core voters!
This is a free lesson. Each party has its hardcore supporters who will follow a particular leaders as long as he identifies with the party. Remember some areas where it has been argued that you can have a goat for a candidte and it will still win as people follow the party not an individual.
Each party established, like MCP, UDF should have at least 20 percent of hardcore supporters from its bases like Dowa, Lilongwe rural, Ntchisi and Dedza for MCP and Mangochi, Machinga, Balaka and Zomba for UDF. The DPP base will be determined after its first general elections test on May 19.
Now for a party like UDF to win, it taps on its core supporters as a base, the same with MCP, then it has to convince the independents who make up of 25 percent of the voting group and adds to forty five of each of a party's base./
Add another five to ten of moderates in each party who think the other candidate can do better you have a winner.
However our politicians seem not to understand that they dont have 30 percent of the electorate especially with the breaking up of almost all parties to have smaller ones. These are critical in the sense of coming up with a working alliance and capitalise on the patronage of it leaders to convince anything between tw to five percent to vote in your favour.
Let me stop here and ask anyone who wants a free political lesson to all me. Otherwise this promises to be a dull campaign devoid of issues and business as usual approach.
How I miss those ballons, T-shirts, watches and plates, they made a difference to a rural woman who told me in Ntchisi- izi abweretsa chifukwa cha kampeni tivala koma tokavota tambala. I thought she was a wise old woman!!