MCP has now decided to try to return the state of the art fuel guzzler that Chakwera is cruising around in. They got so much flak from both civil society and the executive (DPP) that they decided to go for this one. Probably the executive will refuse citing some unrelated bureaucratic reason. (“there is no procedure for returning state of the art fuel guzzlers”). This will give Chakwera an opportunity to hit government again: he can lend the vehicle, with attached fuel and maintenance allowances, to – say – a district hospital. And on the first day of operation drive it himself. This gives him two advantages:
- He gets to talk to the people on the ground, and understands how the policies he reads on paper are being implemented in the districts. Very important to come out of the ivory tower in Lilongwe Capital Hill.
- He can make a great press coverage with this: the LEADER OF THE OPPOSITION at the wheel of an improvised ambulance on a dusty road will make for great television and stills images. The press (if ferried by MCP) will love it, and he will be on local, but also international, tv. Imagine on – say – Al-Jazeera: In Malawi the leader of the opposition, Lazarus Chakwera, has decided to act personally to address the problem of lack of ambulances. He has volunteered his service vehicle for the duty. And on top of it all: he is driving himself. I am now talking to Mr Chakwera. Chakwera: “It is important for a duty bearer to experience first-hand how the situation on the ground in developing. Here I get to talk to the people who use public health care, and their stories are heart wrenching.” Etcetera. You get the picture. This will give him international exposure, which is important for a President in Waiting, and it will give him great leverage at the next election. To top it all, he can arrive in Parliament tomorrow on a boda boda. This again will make for great press images (just remember to wear a helmet to make it legal. A bajaj will also get the message across, but it is closed so it will make for less arresting TV coverage. Again this bit of press play will being great exposure which no doubt will translate into votes at the next election. Talking of the next election: at the end of his term he can buy the vehicle for a pittance (as per the quoted conditions of service) and donating the vehicle to a charity. Again, that’s an election stunt that will make headlines. And those translate into votes.