I have some good news and bad news too.
The good news is that the vice president finally impressed me with a powerful political speech of a potential political leader. The speech that he delivered at the launch of his United Transformation Movement (UTM) at Masintha ground on Saturday was impressive. But I look at it from two aspects of delivery and content.
Let me start with the aspect of delivery which was the impressive aspect and the good news. The delivery shows that Chilima adopted the strategy of simulation of strength. A legendary strategist of warfare named Sun Tzu recommended that it is proper to feign strength when you are weak. The idea is to give a deceptive appearance which will intimidate your opponent and cause them to panic and possibly induce paralysis into their camp. Chilima applied this strategy impressively. For example, he threatened that he has names of corrupt people in DPP and will be releasing them in the future. Chilima also challenged in strongest terms that DPP cannot rig elections because he knows rigging tactics better than them – “DPP yachepa.” He warned the alleged thieves in DPP to start returning stolen money immediately. He claimed that he shall only extend the amnesty with 30 days after winning elections and begin to arrest the corrupt DPP members. These are some of the threats he made.
But I can confidently challenge that Chilima did not mean any of these threats. He has no names – Kamlepo Kalua played this trick before. If Chilima had names, he could have already started mentioning some of them right away at the rally to boost the launching hype not tell us that he will do it in some distant future. Why in the future not now? And I am very sure he will never stand at the podium and mention names. He was bluffing. And he also did not really mean it when he said that DPP cannot rig because achepa, or that he will arrest DPP corrupt officials and they must start returning stolen money right away. He was only trying to project himself to the people of Malawi that he is stronger and better than DPP. He was feigning strength and power. But of course this is brilliant tactical politics.
Look, Chilima and UTM are the weakest camp on the road to 2019 among the political giants. But with the strategy at Masintha some Malawians have started to think that Chilima is now the biggest threat and likely to win in 2019. I am sure that the Masintha experience has even shaken the confidence and tested the faith of some DPP and MCP members alike. It was an impressive move Chilima made, I like it.
I also like how Chilima sophisticatedly managed to arrest the attention and excitement of his audience during the speech by employing a good and well managed sense of humor. He was also able to transfer the energy of his speech into the audience thereby moving them into action as they cheered on top of their voices and applauded his speech. He maintained positive connection with the audience throughout his speech and managed to climax the connection by taking his audience into a higher emotional experience as he led them into a song which they joyously sang along with him. He ended the speech with the song thereby ending at a climax which left the audience leaving the rally in high spirits. That was just brilliant.
Unfortunately, like I said, there is some bad news too.
The bad news concerns the second aspect of the speech which has to do with the composition of the content and the fact that once again, Chilima failed to resign from DPP despite promising us twice that he would.
Let me start with the content. Despite its potential to project power and threaten opponents, the speech was not loaded and lacked creativity and uniqueness of the actual message. The thesis of the speech was the same old story about alleged corruption and nepotism of the DPP administration. For the launch of the movement, the speech needed a different thesis and depth not a repetition of what everyone talks about every day. Corruption and nepotism should have come in as very peripheral points because it has become a cheap and easy political talk without any corresponding instant action that some of us would expect if those people were honest and serious with their allegations.
Remember that MCP and even DPP itself always speak against corruption and nepotism. President of MCP, Lazarus Chakwera has spoken against corruption and nepotism more than a hundred times and has exhausted himself of any sensible statements to make about it. His Excellency, President Mutharika has also on several occasions admonished against corruption in strongest terms possible and his administration has submitted statistics to disprove the alleged nepotism. My point is that the issues of corruption and nepotism are very common and you don’t launch a party or movement with such very ordinary and highly repeated message. You cannot stand out and get distinguished like that because among other factors, it only shows that you are lazy at thinking to come up with new ideas.
I know that in the politics of elections, a candidate and party need to brand their campaign with a specific massage which they must repeat everywhere. It must be the theme message which can summarize their whole campaign in at least one sentence. But this message must be the product of a strict process of creative thinking to make it unique and appealing to both the intellect and emotions of the electorate. The message must pass the test of the most critical intellectual scrutiny to impress intelligent voters and be persuasive enough to conquer sheer hatred and poor perception and poor attitudes of loyal voters. Sadly, the content of the speech of Chilima did not qualify for such a creative and unique message with intellectual and emotional appeals.
Yes, apart from the usual corruption and nepotism, he talked about the abolishment of quota system, stopping women from dancing at rallies, creation of a million jobs in a year, and a spy machine for rigging elections, and etc. But most of these other points were worse because they did not make sense at all when you look into them critically.
Let me finish with the bad news of Chilima’s failure to resign from DPP. Chilima has started to lie to Malawians even before he becomes president. He has shown that he is a leader whose words cannot be trusted. He promised the innocent people of Malawi more than once that he will resign from DPP soon. But he remains a DPP member and he said nothing about his resignation even as he was launching his movement and attacking DPP of some moral rot. If DPP is as rotten as he claims, then why is he failing to resign from the party? There is not a single reason that would prevent him from resigning.
In fact DPP does not want Chilima even as vice president for Mutharika’s administration. So why does he not resign? He must resign not only as a member of DPP but also as vice president of the country because he will be receiving government salary without offering any services to Malawians and that is outright cash-gate. The vice president serves at the pleasure of the president. It is clear now that the president will no longer be delegating Chilima meaning that he will no longer be performing his duties as vice president. Instead he will be busy with his movement. So why should he continue withdrawing a salary and allowances from government? That is fraud and outright corruption. How will Chilima stand and accuse anyone of being corrupt while he is getting a free salary from our tax? Legally, there is no problem with remaining in the office of vice president but morally it is wrong to get our tax for free- its cashgate.
Chilima started well at Masintha. I sincerely applaud him. But he must find a better campaign team to help him with serious and creative campaign messages. And his speech should have included his resignation from DPP and also from the office of vice president in the Mutharika administration. There was no better time to resign than the time of the launch of his own movement. Otherwise he has already started stealing from us before becoming president. He has the moral obligation towards the people of Malawi to resign.