There is a power struggle in politics in Malawi. We all know about the struggle in DPP and the one in MCP.

WE all know that Arthur Peter Mutharika is a lame duck President. Almost from the start, when he was framed by his own staff in NAC/Bribe-the-Journalists Gate, he has had very little influence over policy. And now his health is not what it was, his power has diminished even further.

In DPP it is the old guard under rulership of George Chaponda trying to get rid of the newcomer VP Saulos Chilima. Clearly, they fear that if Arthur Peter Mutharika’s health deteriorates further, at some point Chilima could take over. And that is something they don’t want: they want to keep it in the family of old-timers.

In MCP a related type of power struggle is going on: the old guard is unhappy with the rulership of Lazarus Chakwera, also a newcomer to Malawi politics.

However, I feel this is to be seen in broader context: it is not only the generations, it is also the content of the politics. Chilima and Chakwera come from the private sector: Chilima from Airtel telephone company, one of the most innovative companies in Malawi. Chakwera comes from the Assemblies of God, one of those evangelical organizations that are run, inspired by their American examples, as commercial enterprises. Both have a much more free market, capitalist, liberal, maybe even neo-liberal view of the Nation. For them, coming from the capitalist (or managerial) class, a modern liberal or neo-liberal economy is the way to go.

The old guard, some of whom, like lead player Chaponda, were born under colonialism (!) and had their formative experiences under the dictatorship of Banda, with a guided economy, are not amused. A neo-liberal policy will be good for the economy of the big companies, foreign investors, rich capitalists and such. But it will outmaneuver most of the old style politicians, who do not possess the capitalist skills needed to stay rich in this new type economy.

Of course the big foreign companies like the tobacco buyers and telephone cartels, are looking to a neo-liberal policy: they want rule of law, free enterprise, deregulation, free movement of capital into and out of the country, freely convertible currency, competition on the market and such. This will enable them to make money off the population in their way, which is different from the old guard way of corruption, nepotism, tender-preneurship and such.

The catch is: the population is being used for profit in both ways. Do we envision a third way, that serves the whole population and not just one ruling class or another?


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