Reverend Lazarus Chakwera addressed the press today through an emotional statement that betrayed how far he has strayed from political reality and how he is struggling to gain political relevance after the May 21 elections.
That statement came 16 hours after his party’s National Committee roasted him for poor leadership at a crisis meeting held on Friday.
The party wants him to go. But he wants to try to con them into keeping him.
His strategy is to tell lies.
In the statement today, he denied: that it was him who incited his supporters to cause violence and terror on innocent Malawians; that his party’s thugs were unarmed; that the police targeted him and US envoy Virginia Palmer for teargassing on Wednesday.
As he has proven many times before, Reverend Chakwera is a charlatan who finds it very easy to lie for his own convenience. The problem with this trick of his is that facts stand out taller than his lies and he is always exposed.
That is also what happened today in his press briefing.
Reverend Chakwera lies that he did not incite the violence which his supporters have been perpetrating in Lilongwe and Dowa.
Here is the fact which Malawians know: On May 22, while vote counting was only at 20 percent, he declared himself winner of the elections and pressurized MEC to fast track the releasing of the results.
At that press briefing in Blantyre, in the full glare of the world, he said he was ready “to shed blood” if results of the elections did not go in his favour.
He incited lawlessness further when he declared himself Commander-in-Chief.
Since then his party’s followers have been destroying public property, disrupting businesses and hunting and beating up people from other tribes.
All traditional leaders in the central region which is the party’s stronghold have condemned him over his “blood shed” remarks which they say has inflamed up his people to go on rampage.
They have demanded that he should withdraw the remark, reprimand the party thugs for the violence and apologize to Malawians for the terror.
ARMED MCP YOUTHS
Reverend Chakwera lies that his violent party youths have been unarmed.
Yet, people have the truth in their mobile phones and computers. Pictures have been trending on social media of MCP youths clad in party colours causing violence and bloodshed – some of them armed with pangas, axes and stones.
Even the Gule wa Mkulu which the party deployed to terrorize the court during its injunction was armed with a panga. The pictures are in circulation.
Also the party’s thugs have been brandishing guns on social media against their political opponents. It does need prayer to see this evidence.
VIRGINA PALMER TEARGASSING
Reverend Chakwera lies that US ambassador was the target of the teargassing by police on Wednesday.
The fact is: Virginia Palmer herself told the BBC that the police were reacting to stone throwing by MCP thugs at the party’s headquarters.
In its report on June 6, the BBC quoted Palmer as saying: “Just as we finished the meeting (with Chakwera), apparently rocks were thrown and the police responded with teargas.”
In a statement on Thursday, the US government repeated that Palmer and indeed Chakwera himself was never the target of the teargassing by the police. Instead, the police were reacting to the MCP hoodlums who were causing violence around the area.
SO, WHY THESE LIES AND OUTBURST?
Reverend Chakwera is a man suffering severe pressure. Hence his outbursts and lies.
Since 2013 when he assumed the leadership of the party, he has destroyed MCP’s foundations through his purges.
He has scattered and kicked out those that held the together and connected it the grassroots. Its followers and some of its officials and MPs have become so disappointed that they have been working to get rid of him.
That is partly why the party lost its strength in the central region this time.
Under his watch, the party has become weaker – contrary to what insiders expected. It has become more tribalist and as much violent as it used to be in its 31-year rule.
Under Chakwera, the party has failed in two elections.
Reverend Chakwera’s days at the helm of MCP are numbered. The party’s constitution does not allow him to be the party’s presidential candidate for the third time.
This he knows.
His strategy now is to lie. He has been claiming that he has been robbed victory. This is his attempt to impress upon the party followers that he is the right man for the party. His expectation is that this will make the party to change the constitution so that he can run again for the third term.
But the party faithful are not buying this. They want Chakwera to go because he has failed to deliver.
This is one of the issues that party discussed at its crisis NEC meeting on Friday. Chakwera was told in the face that he has not been managing the party well. They told they had warned him in 2015 that the party would lose in this election because of his poor leadership style.
The growing sentiment now in the party is that Chakwera must go very soon for his replacement to have ample time to fix the Reverend’s mess and prepare the party for the election in 2024.
Out in the streets in central region, amid the violence, public opinion is also that Chakwera has lost the election and it is only pride that makes him think he won. They say he is disrupting their lives with his refusal to agree that he lost the election legitimately.
So however hard he tries to give an impression that he is still politically relevant by creating excuses for his failure, the feeling inside MCP is that he must go.
That could come very soon and Reverend Chakwera is under severe pressure at the prospect of a shameful exit.