or a political grouping that was born out of convenience the People’s Party deserves all the kudos for successfully holding a national convention within the first year of its formation. PP has defied all the odds to set the tone in democracy. That’s no small feat considering that there is a certain party - you know which one - that went in and out of government without holding even a single convention.
The gestation period of PP was shrouded in all manner of problems. You may recall that when Joyce Banda was expelled from the ruling party on December 11, 2010 President Bingu wa Mutharika warned her to dare form a political party. The late president warned his erstwhile second-in-command that should she dare form a political party she would be given the Bingu dosage as experienced by his predecessor, Bakili Muluzi.
But what started as 'Friends of Joyce Banda' in some obscure corner of Zomba germinated into a fully-fledged party. To have it registered as a party was another hurdle. It had to take the courts to force the hands of the powers-that-were. The rest, as they say, is history.
But conventions aren’t a child's play for political parties. They have a real potential of making or breaking a political party. They literally open up the party, egos are bruised during conventions for certain people with a sense of entitlement may take defeat badly.
When calling for a convention, leaders have to be prepared on how to handle and address post-convention crisesstate,’ ” Raphael Tenthani
When calling for a convention, leaders have to be prepared on how to handle and address post-convention crises. It would be a grave mistake for leaders to move on with the winners and leave out the losers sulking because even the losers have multitudes of supporters that need to be managed and contained lest they get too disgruntled to start fighting the party.
So, for taking this bold and brave decision to hold a national convention, PP has displayed the resolve to become a true democratic party.Kudos once again.
But that said, while we in the muckraking community are patting the ruling party at the back for a job well done, I guess we will be failing in our watchdog role if we don’t point out where we feel the party could have done better.
For starters, for an event that was planned to last a single day to run for two full days shows lack of proper planning. Surely the secretariat should have done a 'dry-run' to estimate time the convention would realistically last. You cannot realistically hope to have close to 2, 000 delegates voting for close to 100 positions in only 12 hours.
Because of the unplanned time the programme was rushed. While at the beginning candidates were accorded a chance to say a few words in a last -ditch attempt to woo undecided voters those whose positions came up later were not afforded such a privilege.
Besides, because of weariness, some delegates just voted mechanically - just to get it done.
But perhaps the starkest missed opportunity was in the President's speech. Instead of giving us the litany of how the party suffered in its formative years I would have expected Joyce Banda to present herself and her party to Malawians. She should have outlined - in a mini state-of-the-nation address - the stand of she and her party on issues vexing Malawians at the moment.
For example, what’s PP's world-view on minority rights which some quarters want to use as a campaign tool? Indeed Malawians want to hear revolutionary ideas - if any - the party has on critical issues like education, health, food security and security. As a relatively new party, Malawians needed to be told of its values and beliefs. Although she was addressing PP delegates her message should have gone beyond the marquee.
This wasn’t a podium for PP and its president to continue playing victim. Joyce Banda is in charge and the PP is her vehicle to make her vision translate into reality. Conventions must not be for electoral purposes only. Conventions must be platforms where party policies are floated, discussed, discarded or adopted.
I have discussed this before and I would discuss it again here.
PP, if it wants to be stand out among the rest, should be particular with its image Raphael Tenthani
PP, if it wants to be stand out among the rest, should be particular with its image. Granted, we know that our politics is fraught with journeymen who rush to align with ruling parties but PP should have been selective who it wants to associate with.
Scan the faces that have made it into the PP executive, you wonder whether PP is an amalgamation of political parties. There are people who have had dalliances with almost all political parties in Malawi at one point or the other. Where is the PP identity?
Besides, I think by opening up to all and sundry PP missed an opportunity to portray itself as a “clean” party devoid of some “unclean” elements. President Banda's call that founding members of PP (meaning those who stuck by the party during its troubled times) must work with those who joined the party when it had already crossed the 'River Jordan', as it were, should have been qualified. Reconciliation and forgiveness are good virtues for the party but image should have been paramount.
This is how I mean: when Joyce Banda founded PP there were people (you know them) who made sure her life and that of her supporters were hell. They were all over the airwaves calling her and her supporters names. Not only that, they physically made sure her party had no foot-print in certain areas.
Now that fate turned the tables, is it morally right for the same aggressors to be given red carpet treatment? What assurance does the President and her party have that once something happens to her these journeymen will not migrate to the new lords in town? Besides, how do genuine ordinary members of the party feel to be saluting those who only five months ago made their life hell?
Some leaders who gave Bingu a bad name snatched positions in the new PP executive. What assurance do we have that these people will not spoil Joyce Banda again a few years down the line?I would rather sanitise people joining my party and lose an election with dignity than accommodate political prostitutes just for the sake of winning an election. By populating its politburo with people with vulgar mouths and undemocratic inclinations, the PP has contaminated its otherwise saintly image and silently many of its genuine followers feel short-changed. PP should have welcomed these political miscreants but should have kept them nowhere near the nerve centre of the party. After all parties, like any other groupings, are clubs of the willing, they should have set standards and rules.
---©2012 The Maravi Post