Saturday, April 11, 2009

बकिली मुलुजी इन इदेंतिटी क्रिसिस पोस्ट प्रेसिदेंक्य?

Muluzi in identity crisis post presidency?
By Isaac Cheke Ziba

In just about six weeks the Malawi nation heads to the polls – yes the presidential and parliamentary elections. Once again
the nation will be choosing leaders – yes leaders we will entrust the affairs and administration of our country with – a
country crying out for serious leadership – leadership that can translate into improved lives of our people and their
livelihoods, of course.

While this is true and time is ticking away fast and quick, we are witnessing one major political party in what I, as an
outsider, can describe as a leadership crisis – simply meaning that the party is not ready to lead Malawi – again. You know
what party I am talking about – it is the United Democratic Front – UDF, of course!

I do not believe, for a second, that in the UDF there is nobody who sees things and issues differently from the way their
leader sees and views things. Yes, Dr Bakili Muluzi, of course. The man helped in the bundling, to the doldrums, of the once
‘mighty’ Malawi Congress Party. Their ‘might’ was both in terms of political stature particularly because they were the only
ones in existence and in power for a long time in our country – and that ‘might’ was consolidated by the fact they were a
‘mercilessly’ brutal party and they also formed a mercilessly brutal government – over the years. As if that is not enough on
the ‘achievements’ record of Dr Bakili Muluzi, the man went ahead, stood in the 1994 presidential elections and he winged
into the magnificent “state houses” of the Republic of Malawi – and he did it for the second time in 1999.

Simply put, Bakili Muluzi was president of the republic of Malawi for two consecutive terms – translating into ten years. As
Malawians we should all be aware of what happened as we all expected Dr Bakili Muluzi to wilfully wind up his presidency.
On the ticking of his watch, the Nation was taken through debates of a possible stay of presidents beyond the ‘vaguely’
indicated constitutional two terms – of five years each. We had the open terms debate; we also had the third [sad] term
debate. They were ‘sticky’ and ‘tough’ debates – not only did Malawians find it surprising, I may argue, but they found the
debates brutal too as they were accompanied by ‘aggressive’ and ‘violent’ ‘youthful energy’ from what were popularly
referred to as ‘Young Democrats.’ All these political machinations by one Dr Bakili Muluzi yielded nothing of substance in as
far as his whims and fancies were concerned.

We thought, as a nation, that is/was it! But nay! Muluzi had more ‘surprises’ up his sleeves. He took the political battles to
his ‘own’ political club. He decided to ‘leave out into the cold’ all senior members of the UDF – seasoned politicians, one
may argue, in the likes of Aleke Kadonaphani Banda, Harry Thomson, Brown Mpinganjira, Jan Jaap Sonkie etc – and opted
for an ‘outsider’ – Dr Bingu wa Muntharika. Conspiracy theorists have it that at the back of his mind, Muluzi thought Bingu
would easily be ‘manipulated’ so that he could still be in control of the affairs of government – ‘kuimba belu ali pa kaliyala’ –
to quote one of Muluzi’s famous statements. He [Muluzi] just did not leave it to fate though, remember! He went ahead and
bulldozed the UDF to change their constitution to provide for the office of ‘Party Chairman’ – the post he immediately
occupied. And conspiracy theorists have it that the position of ‘Chairman’ was, at party level, more powerful than that of the
Party President – at the time Dr Bingu wa Muntharika – a possible future President of the country at the time. All this, one
would argue, was intent at consolidating his power behind the scenes of government.

Bingu was going to have none of this ‘rubbish and nonsense’ one would speculate. As soon as he got elected, by the
Malawian people, he sent a clear message during his inauguration ceremony – that he will be his own man – and he
indeed acted, behaved and governed as ‘his own man’ right from Kamuzu Stadium where the inauguration took place.

Noting that his whims and fancies were crumbling down and fast, Muluzi decided that he will wage war – political war –
against a sitting president, one can easily speclate. “Sindingalephere kuphwetsa chubu chopopa ndekha’ he declared and
it did not take long for him to decide that it was time to come back to power – at which point the vacant seat, owing to the
departure of Dr Bingu wa Muntharika, of the UDF Party President was not filled by anybody else but one Dr Bakili Muluzi.

Crisis! Can you see one with me?

There are laws in this country as enshrined in our constitution regarding how long one can serve as president. This did not
matter to Dr Bakili Muluz, or did it?i – and probably it did not matter to the UDF either, or did it? Why do I say it did not seem
to matter? It is because the UDF endorsed their “tcheya and president” as their front runner in the 2009 Presidential polls.
As if that was not enough the man, Dr Bakili Muluzi, gathered enough courage and contained adequate audacity and gut of
presenting his nomination papers to the Malawi Electoral Commission – nay – “The Electoral Commission’ on February 4,
2009 – uneventfully.

The Malawian Nation, to a large extent, was left with their mouths agape as they wondered how on earth, after all the razz
matazz and hullabaloo surrounding the ‘new form’ of the third term bid – which may well translate into open terms once the
man gets back to Malawi’s ‘state houses’ – including the hussle pused by some, potentially bogus, James Phiri’s, Dr Bakili
Muluzi presented his nomination papers to ‘The Electoral Commission” so uneventfully – and so un-worth of news?

Reality, and probably trouble too, was brewing somewhere else. ‘The Electoral Commission’ was scrutinizing the papers of
all those that ‘asked for employment’ through it via the May 19 elections and trying hard to do anything and everything
related to ‘electoral matters’ within the legal framework with the Constitution as their guide. The UDF and a lot of its
prominent members burked, coughed and jeered at the Electoral Commission – the Commission was taking too long for
them – they edged and agitated to know. The big question was why? Why the impatience?

Oh yes, the news came – and it came hard! On March 20, 2009, Dr Bakili Muluzi was told that his nomination papers had
been rejected as a possible candidate for and in the May 19 presidential polls. He must have been gutted; he must have
been disappointed and he must have been thinking he would wake up from the ‘nightmarish sort of dreaming.’ Nay! he
wasn’t! That reality had come to stay around and in the BCA Hills. He was quick to make a statement – attributing the
rejection to some political influence from somewhere unto ‘The lectoral Commission’ – not very willing, one would say to
look inside – inside himself and his political party and their history in regard to the office of the president of the Malawi

In haste, the man sued, yes he sued the “Malawi Electoral Commission” – we are just learning that we have no such thing
as The Malawi Electoral Commission – but we do have “The Electoral Commission” – and in that very haste, and
apparently under the counsel of 24 lawyers – with three foreign ones, Dr Bakili Muluzi missed on the procedures too – and
as expected – his case was thrown out of court on procedural grounds – of course the Judges, yes three of them - offered
him the liberty to properly lodge his ‘complaint.’ Time, and to a great extent, the bigger part of the Nation, one would argue,
are not on Muluzi’s side. Sitikufuna, as a nation, akabwerebwere pa mpando wa pulezidenti ku Malawi kuno!

News emerging from the UDF camp as well as Dr Bakili Muluzi himself makes interesting reading and hearing. While it
appears he is not ready with a fresh challenge, he seems ready to go into an electoral alliance with the Malawi Congress
Party – a party that has before, and by other political players, been described as a party of ‘death and darkness’, and Muluzi
himself has referred to the leader of the Malawi Congress Party as a leader whose hands are stained with blood –
“mtsogoleri woti mmanja ake muli magazi.”

It can be argued that we are witnessing a former president of the Republic of Malawi, Dr Bakili Muluzi, in an ‘identity crisis’
post his presidency. Is it an attachment to politics? Is it his passion for Malawi? Is it personal hatred and loathing of Dr
Bingu wa Muntharika? Is it obsession with power? Is it about an indescribable emptiness inside him? Or is it about being
in power perpetually and forever till he gets demented? Or is it about a personal agenda that we may not all, fully, be aware
of? Questions! Questions! Questions!

Your answers to these questions may well be as good as mine. All I can say is that there may be a bit of everything and it all
leaves a bitter after-taste.

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