BY LYSON SIBANDE
Since the May 21 Tripartite Elections, the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) has been facing hostility everywhere. The hostile Civil Society Organizations have been leading a hostile public into hostile mass protests with the help of a hostile Opposition. And where the DPP administration has run to the courts for help, they have only faced a rather hostile judiciary.
However, DPP is no stranger to hostility. Since its formation in 2005, the party has always faced either a hostile parliament or hostile public and civil society or both. There has never really been a time when a certain crucial section of the society was not hostile against DPP. But through the toughest of times, DPP has only learned how to adapt and perfect its survival instincts and abilities.
I once said it, and I will repeat that DPP knows how to survive. However, as an ardent follower of world history and events, I know very well that even the strongest of leaders and governments eventually fall. Mostly, they fall at the peak of their arrogance when their past record of conquests deceive them into thinking that they are unbeatable.
The period between 2019 and 2024 will be the worst of all the tough times that DPP has survived in the 14 years of its existence.
For the first time, DPP is facing a hostile united Opposition that is also united with the hostile CSOs whom together have the backing of about 70 per cent of a disappointed electorate and much of the national population waiting for the slightest opportunity to kick DPP out of power whether legally or not.
In a democracy, where government cannot use excessive force of the police and the army to contain such a situation or censor the media to mitigate effects of enemy propaganda, we can assume the worst scenario possible.
The worst scenario of course is dependent on the ability of the union of the Opposition and CSOs to persist on this course and escalate the pressure and damage. And from where I am standing, I think they are able and whether they lose the court case or not, and whether the Supreme Court grants the injunction against demonstrations or not, DPP will face continuous hostility and more violent demonstration, sabotage, subversion etc. until 2024 because that’s the strategy the Opposition will use to weaken DPP if it survives the current protests and court case.
But while this is bad news enough for DPP, it gets worse because this is happening at the time when the party must face the hard test of a leadership succession war.
The leadership succession struggle is very dangerous because it is a virus that infects vital organs that hold the party together. The party becomes less immune to fight against external enemies as it slowly or quickly disintegrates into factions unless the situation is quickly remedied as Bingu wa Mutharika did between 2009 and 2010. Kamuzu Banda also did the same after the 1994 Elections. But others like Bakili Muluzi between 1999 and 2004 and Chakufwa Chihana of AFORD as of 2006 failed to intervene early enough and their parties disintegrated on late implementation of a succession plan.
Bingu wa Mutharika stepped in quickly enough to prevent the virus from spreading by quickly endorsing a potential successor. That gave DPP the needed time to recover and purge casualties so that even in the event of Bingu’s sudden death, the successor was widely accepted along the party structures and well groomed to lead the party immediately.
Under normal circumstances, DPP would need to prioritize the development and implementation of short-term strategies to maneuver out of immediate dangers while it shelves long-term strategies for future objectives. But the party is trapped into a situation where strategic interests of 2024 will be interfering with its ability to tactically maneuver its operational challenges.
I suspect, the Opposition parties are aware of this and will take full advantage of it.