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Malawi’s ruling party’s discordant tongues

I have said it before and I will say it again now: the ruling Peoples Party (PP) suffers from one serious problem - faulty management of communication.

Look, just what was the party, through its eccentric deputy publicity secretary Kenneth Nsonda, trying to communicate last week? In case you missed it, Nsonda was in the news lambasting defectors to his own party as a "threat to democracy". He said something like if uncontrolled these defectors may turn Malawi into a one-party state.

 

Granted, I personally have not hidden my opposition towards the PP wholesale open-door policy. If I were a PP strategist I would have advised against acceptance of all and sundry in the rank and file of the party. If truth be told, some characters that have populated the ruling party are the same that confused and misled the late Bingu wa Mutharika. You know them! Only six months ago they were on public podia calling outcast Joyce Banda all sorts of names when Bingu was still breathing.

I would therefore agree with Nsonda that allowing everyone unchecked in its fold makes the PP a carbon copy of the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) or the United Democratic Front (UDF.)

But, unlike me, Nsonda speaks for the party; what Ken Nsonda says is supposedly what PP thinks. If the party has therefore decided to allow both the cream and the chaff in its ranks Nsonda must support that decision or resign his position in protest if he does not agree with that stance. In fact if he resigned on principle he would be a hero in my book. But for him to come out and speak with a forked tongue - one side praising Abiti for allowing everybody in and the other crying foul - makes him something of a hypocrite, if you ask me.

By the way, if truth be told, Nsonda is himself a product of this sickening nomadic politics. Not too long ago Nsonda was in UDF. Do you remember him leading a gang of UDF hoodlums in locking up the party's offices in Limbe to prevent Secretary General Kennedy Makwangwala from entering at the height of the former ruling party's madness? lf he was a principled politician he should have stuck with the dying party to try to rescue it from the jaws of death.

But not my good friend Ken; he saw potential gold in PP and abandoned the sinking ship when it needed him most.

Nsonda's utterances therefore put paid some of our arguments that flinging wide open the PP doors may expose the party to undesirable elements. Because people are rushing to join the PP gravy-train, not out of principle but greed, the ruling party risks being a mad house, a kind of latter-day Tower of Babel where discordant views are the order of the day. Just imagine the party vice-president describing a defector as "an asset" and then the publicist comes around to call the supposed asset "a threat to democracy", what does that tell you?

The discordance in views among politicians of the same party is a symptom of the malignant cancer with Malawian politics. There are just not too many real politicians around. Most people who masquerade as politicians are in fact journeyman out to eke out a living out of politics. You cannot fail to spot them: last week they were in MCP because it was in power, yesterday they were in UDF because it was in power, today you see them oscillating between DPP and PP because the two parties are ceding power to each other.

It is high time our parties had discernible ideologies. We have close to 40 political parties out there but most of them are different in name only. If a politician can afford to work easily with five parties in as many years is there a need for five political parties? It means all the five parties are generally the same.

Back to Nsonda and his strange views, perhaps there is a bigger picture behind his utterances. He could be saying more than he actually said. He could as well be speaking on behalf of a constituency of disgruntled people in the ruling party. We all know PP was born from the soot of a scorched vice-presidency of Joyce Banda. When she was ostracised from the then ruling party you were being fool-hardy to associate with her.

But associate with her some did and they suffered for it. However, when nature turned the tables during those three mad days in April the same people who turned Mama Joyce into a door-mat to wipe their soiled shoes on came flocking to her. President Banda embraced them and gave them seats at the high table displacing those who suffered with her during her dog days.

These people may put up a brave face and pretend all is well but they are certainly hurting inside. Nsonda could be an unofficial spokesman for them.

Be that as it may, PP must learn to manage its message well lest it becomes an experiment gone horribly wrong. Elections are just but less than two years away. Voters of today have started asking critical questions, ask the people of Mzimba Central. Discordant voices spread discordant messages and that is a sure recipe for disaster.

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