Thursday, May 2, 2013


NOTE: This post will only mention three presidential aspirants namely Dr Joyce Banda, Atupele Muluzi and Peter Mutharika because they are sure of representing their parties in next year's polls, God willing. 

Without even waiting for the official campaign period which is commissioned by Electoral Commission some months before the polls, things on the ground a refusing to wait as all the major political players have jumped into the cage, ready for battle.

Almost on weekly basis politicians are navigating new grounds through which they can reach the electorate. Whistle stops, political and developmental rallies are among the many approaches undertaken.

However, political gatherings might not be the main determinants when the election approaches and might only amount to a small chunk of influence on the electorate.

The problem with attendance at rallies lies in the fact that nobody knows who owns that particular crowd. The same people who attend Atupele’s rallies are the same that will also attend a developmental rally by President Dr. Joyce Banda.

ATUPELE: Is age all there is to his Presidential bid?
The main difference though among politicians is the influence they have and the content of their speeches.

Influence in political circles must always be measured by reality on the ground in regards to people’s livelihoods.

This then draws the question on who is the most influential among our politicians? Who has the greatest reach?

Would people in Chitipa relate to Peter Mutharika the way they do to President Joyce Banda? 

How does Atupele register in the mind of a tangerine farmer in Mwanza? 

Between Peter, Atupele and President Dr Banda who has reached out to Malawians more than the other over the past years?

These questions cannot be swept under the carpet when we talk about influence. Hence President Banda’s passion for philanthropy long before she joined politics will prove a strong competence when the polls approach next year.

Records indicate that her Joyce Banda Foundation International (JBFI) has in its books 900,000 youths who are being helped in small loans and technical expertise to run businesses. There are also 200,000 women countrywide who are benefiting from several initiatives under the JBFI. Many more youths and women have been lifted out of poverty through this organization.

Malawians therefore will ask the same questions to Atupele and Mutharika. How do Malawians know them outside politics and presidential ambitions?

Will their connection to former rulers be of any importance in this game? I don't think so.

PETER: Are his credentials relevant to common Malawians?

Have they reached out enough in the past years or they are toiling now to familiarize themselves with the people?

Another aspect that gives Joyce Banda leverage is that she has the determining cards in her hands; she is the incumbent Head of State.

What gives incumbents advantage is the interventionist ability they hold in the eyes of the electorate.

Who registers problems with urgency and immediacy? The incumbent of course.

If people of Ntchisi have no food in their homes and are visited by the three candidates, Atupele and Peter are likely to say “When we get into government next year we will give you food” while Joyce Banda will bring the food with her and distribute after the rally. This gesture can also be displayed on many issues such as drugs in public hospitals, learning material in schools, safe water among others.

This interventionist leverage makes the incumbent easily touch the hearts of many people than other politicians and they are the same people who bring a great change on the electoral podium.

Therefore, next year’s election might see Joyce Banda starting with a substantial lead even before voting commences. She already has a host of people she has touched even before she became President.

What the opposition need to do is play a catch up game and they must play it wisely lest it backfires quickly.
DR JOYCE BANDA: The incumbency coupled with her long-time influence on Malawians might just determine her victory in 2014
For example, for many months the opposition have been concentrating on Joyce Banda’s handling of the economy thereby forgetting other permanent issues affecting the masses. 

This means that when the economy gets back on track (as it is being witnessed by statistics from National Statistical Office and Reserve Bank of Malawi) the opposition will have an empty plate and nothing to tell the public.

Time is now for Peter to stop dreaming of helicopters and helipads and realize that opening projects without sorting out the technicalities is a big weakness on anyone who wants to rule a country like Malawi. 

It is time for Atupele to realize that the real agenda for change is not based on age but substance. He has to realize that if he cannot say what he will do just because his party is yet to hold a Conference then whatever he says must be taken as irrelevant for the time being. Real leaders guide their people on what they want to achieve before throwing the ball in the people’s court for consensus.

Exactly a year before the polls, influence, incumbency and political substance must form the hub of political thought. If the other candidates can build enough influence and reach within a year that might be the greatest miracle ever to happen on any political field in the world.

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