Putting Malawi Presidential Hopefuls on the Spot while Solving Your Election Dilemma

The year is almost shutting down, the Christmas season is here and the most anticipated year 2014 rising. 2014 is the year of making or breaking for Malawians. It’s the year we can ameliorate our mistakes which have engulfed Malawi for the past five years, or we worsen the situation afterwards. It’s the year people should really think with their brains than stomachs for the brain remembers many things for many years while the stomach doesn’t appreciate the effort of breakfast when it is lunch or dinner hour. It is the year when we can show that we care about generations to come or expose our self-centred spirit. It is the year we can do away with hypocrisy and show that we have been frustrated and want real change after May 20. It is the do or die year to patriotic Malawians. It is the year we should do away with tribalism, regionalism, corruption and looting, self-cleansing and religion-centeredness and focus on Malawi as a whole. It is the year when Malawians not donors should decide who to lead in the next five years. Remember, K500, k1000, K10,000, k100,000 or so cannot satisfy your needs for the next five years if this influences your wrong choice of a leader but your right choice will bring abundance, peace and liberty to you, your family, your community and Malawi as a whole even beyond 2019. It is not a time to be easily influenced by people who come like sheep before election and later behave like a goat. We don’t have to vote for the benefit of our chiefs, counsellors, MPs and the President but for the benefit of Malawi. Think analytically not influenced by “munthu wa kwathu” syndrome.

Before you vote for munthu wa kwanu, ask yourself, “is s/he capable of the position?” “Does s/he have Malawi at heart?” “What characteristics of a good leader does he/she possess?” “Does s/he listen to people’s views?” “Has s/he worked in government top position before?” If yes, “did s/he show capability that s/he can handle the top most position without emotions and outside influence? “Is s/he a person of high integrity, character and ethics when working with people?” “Does s/he lead by example?” “Is s/he a person who walks his/her talk or s/he is just an orator?” “Is s/he a servant leader?” “Is s/he a development minded person?” In addition if s/he is a recycled politician ask yourself, “What good has s/he brought to this country?” If s/he failed you, ask, “What circumstances might have failed him/her?” “Was it his/her fault, ours or his colleagues?” “How did s/he handle frustrating situations?” “Is s/he emotional or composed?” Were the strategies put in place to handle frustrating situations successful? “If were not successful, why not?” What makes him/her popular? Is it his/her faithfulness and good articulation of policies or family affiliation or because s/he is in government now?” “Are these old guards worthy re-electing?” “Have they benefitted us anything or is just because “ndi munthu wa kwathu”?” “Will munthu wa kwathu benefit the whole Malawi or only us or worse still him or herself?” “If he is closer now, will s/he be closer even after election?” Those are the questions you should consider answering when deciding who to vote for.

Brief Profiles of our Top Presidential Hopefuls

Here are the most talked Malawi presidential hopefuls and their brief profiles. Kamwayi ka munthu, Sankha wenkha m’bale ndi m’longo. The arrangement is according to the dawn of their political career.

JOYCE HILDA MTILA BANDA (JB)

DOB: 12 April 1950

Tribe: Yao

District of origin: Zomba, the eastern region of Malawi

Marital status: Married to Richard Banda, the retired Chief Justice of Malawi. He also served in Swaziland in the similar capacity. He comes from Nkhatabay.

Religious affiliation: Christianity

Educational Background: Diploma in Management of NGOs, BA in early Childhood Education,  Bachelor of Social Studies in Gender Studies and a Master’s Degree in Leadership.

Political career: Joined politics in 1999 and won a parliamentary seat representing Zomba Malosa Constituency.

Current political party affiliation: People’s Party (PP)

Political challenges

She was expelled from DPP by the late president Mutharika because of her opposition to Bingu’s plans of imposing his brother Peter to succeed him. She later formed her own People’s Party with Khumbo Kachali, the party she ascended to presidency with.

Political successes

She was minister of Gender and Community Services under Muluzi reign (1999), minister of Foreign Affairs under Bingu’s reign (2006), was the first woman vice president of Malawi from 2009 to April 2012 then she ascended to power following Bingu wa Mutharika’s sudden death making her Malawi’s first woman president and also in SADC region. If I am not mistaken she is also the first woman SADC chairperson.

Leadership experience

A successful business woman, she is the founder of National Association of Business Women in Malawi (NABIWI) and Joyce Banda Foundation. She was an educator and women’s rights activist; she served in ministerial posts, and as vice president and now president. She is also a SADC chairperson. She devalued the Kwacha to about 49% to reactivate the ailing economy to realise fuel and forex. She reverted to the old Malawi flag. She has received distinguished awards in recognition of her efforts in different sectors of leadership.

2014 election probability

Her chances of being re-elected may be influenced by her current position reviewing that most African sitting presidents do not usually lose election. Being in government, she has resources for campaign as compared to others since most African leaders do not distinguish between party and government functions. If women who are the majority decide to back her for being a fellow woman, then her competitors who are all men may have tough time to defeat her, unfortunately women are enemies of themselves. Her greatest fright may be the revelation of Cash-gate scandal, current food insecurity and ailing economy as a result of over-devaluing the Kwacha without cushion measures in place. People may want a better change of leadership.

ATUPELE AUSTIN MULUZU (AAM)

DOB: Born on August 6, 1978

Tribe: Yao

District of origin: Machinga, eastern region of Malawi

Marital status: Married to Angella Zachepa. She is a politician and a holder of Bachelor’s Degree in accounting. She comes from Blantyre. 

Religious affiliation: Islam

Educational Background: Bachelor’s Degree in economics and law

Political career: Joined politics in 2004 and contested for a parliamentary seat in Machinga North East under UDF ticket and succeeded.

Current party affiliation: United Democratic Front (UDF)

Political challenges: He resigned from ministerial position attributing it to unfriendly atmosphere in People’s Party led government. This was as a result of a loud mouthed Uladi Mussa’s outburst on him as being a toddler for presidential race and that presidency is not a family property. This was a challenge to him, I guess.

Political successes: He has been one of the youngest influential politicians in the country. He served as minister of economic planning and development under the Joyce Banda led government.

Leadership experience: He was the first black head boy at Bentham an English Private School in Yorkshire, England. Serving as a member of parliament adds to his Leadership experience. He also served as a minister under Joyce Banda led government.

2014 election probability

Atupele Muluzi is the most appealing presidential candidate to the young people because he is young. If young people decide to choose their age mate, then he stands a chance of winning the presidential race since the majority of Malawians are youths. Being the son to the former president also gives him some votes of those who loved his father’s leadership hoping he would lead the country the same way. However, being the son to the former president may also make him lose votes of those who didn’t like his father’s leadership style. The other disadvantage is also that most Malawians have not come to trust youths with leadership position of that nature. Other people would view his resignation from ministerial post as a leadership weakness, since presidential position receives more criticisms than the one he tried to avoid. A Muslim chief‘s claim than Mangochi is an Islamic state may work against him since he is a Muslim and non-Muslims may fear that his ascendency to power will lead Malawi to be an Islamic state.

ARTHUR PETER MUTHARIKA (APM)

DOB: Born in 1940

Tribe: Lomwe

District of origin: Thyolo, southern region of Malawi

Marital status: Widower with three children whom he had with his late wife, he was in marriage with her for thirty years (this point is doubted by some quarters). My research didn’t yield me anything as to what she was named and where she came from.

Religious affiliation: Complicated (my research didn’t yield me anything on this category)

Educational Background: Peter Mutharika has Law Degree from University of London (1965), Masters of Law (LLM) and Doctor of Juridical Science (JSD) from Yale University (1966/1969).

Political career: He joined frontline politics in 2009 under DPP ticket and won a parliamentary seat in Thyolo east constituency.

Current party affiliation: Democratic Progressive Party (DPP)

Political challenges: When he was minister of education, his brother infringed academic freedoms which brought chaos in University of Malawi (UNIMA) and he (Peter) did not seriously address the situation. He is facing court charges which he believes are politically influenced.

Political successes: He has a great support in DPP and has held ministerial positions such as Education, Justice and Constitutional Affairs and Foreign Affairs under Bingu wa Mutharika’s led government. He has been an MP since 2009.

Leadership experience: He has held ministerial positions such as of education, foreign affairs and justice and constitutional affairs, He has worked in area of international justice internationally, he has been a consultant on international economic law and comparative, he informally served as an advisor to the late president Bingu wa Mutharika for eight years, he served as an academic visitor at the London School, of Economics, he served as advisor to the American Bar Association’s Rule of Law Initiative for Africa, he was a chair of the Institute for Democracy Studies and he was also part of a three man tribunal that was arbitrating international cases. Peter Mutharika has served as a professor at University of Dar es Salaam (Tanzania), Haile Selassie University (Ethiopia), Rutgers University (USA), the United Nations Institute for Training and Research Programme for Foreign Service Officers from Asia and Africa at Makerere University (Uganda) and Washington University (USA). He is also a successful business man having his own respected Law firm in USA.

2014 election probability

His chances of winning 2014 election may be influenced by his family affiliation with his late brother, president Bingu wa Mutharika to those who liked his (Bingu’s) leadership. They may think ndi za m’mgazi, he will also do well. However, the same may also repel people who did not like Bingu’s leadership style. His marital status has been used against him by political rivals. His failure to address academic freedom saga may work against him. His highest frights are on the court charges he is facing which may frustrate his presidential bid.

LAZARUS MCCARTHY CHAKWERA (LAZ)

DOB: Born on April 5, 1955

Tribe: Chewa

District of origin: Lilongwe, central region of Malawi.

Marital status: Married to Monica, a professional accountant and a holder of Bachelor’s Degree in Social work. She comes from Rumphi.

Religious affiliation: Christianity

Educational background: He holds a Bachelor’s Degree in English and Philosophy (Chancellor College of UNIMA), BTH (Hons) (University of North, Sovenga, South Africa), Master’s Degree in Theology (UNISA) and Doctor of Theology (Trinity International University, USA)

Political career: He joined politics in April, 2013 by contesting on Presidency of MCP.

Current party affiliation: Malawi Congress Party (MCP)

Political challenges: His main political challenge may be that he is a novice in the field of politics. He is competing with people who have some political experiences as opposed to him. He is in the party which is perceived to have mistreated citizens when it was in power and some people may have not forgiven it for such atrocities.

Political successes: We are still watching as to what will be his political success, but one notable one is that he is the first man who joined politics by contesting on the top party position and succeeded. He outclassed veteran politicians such as Hon. John Tembo, Joseph Njomvuyalema and Chris Daza just to mention a few.

Leadership experience

Dr. Lazarus Chakwera is a transformational leader and a motivational speaker. He served as a lecturer and a professor in Theological Studies at Assemblies of God School of Theology and a president of Assemblies of God for 24 years. He was the founding senior pastor of International Christian Assembly (ICA) based in Lilongwe. He also served as a board chairperson of Malawi Council of Sports and board trustee member of the Media Council of Malawi. He was also a member of Public Universities Working Committee of Malawi. He also served as a Board chairperson of Petroleum Control Commission of Malawi (2005-2007), Member of negotiation Committee Team, Budget/Sec 65 Impasse (2004-2009). He has also served as a member and a board chairperson in different international bodies

2014 election probability:

His chances of winning 2014 presidential election may be influenced by his newness in politics since people are tired and have lost trust in recycled politicians. He may be a game changer in Malawi politics. He is also the only strong contender from the central region which may work to his advantage that is if the usual way of electing leaders along tribal and regional lines is not ignored since the other three strong contenders may share votes from the southern and eastern regions. He is the most appealing candidate to the Christian community since he has been a church leader for many years. Christians may better trust him than any other candidate. He also comes from the largest tribe in the country; unfortunately this tribe is the enemy of itself. However, being new in the game of politics may also work to his disadvantage since he is not well experienced in politics. He needs to differentiate how to run the church and a political party.

Ine ndangodutsa, sindinatchole m’nkhwani (I have just hinted, the decision is yours). We are celebrating 50 years of independence next year with a newly elected president, let’s be careful not to begin the journey of other fifty years of terrible poverty, we need a development minded leader not a boss. You have a right to make choices but remember, choices have consequences, chose wisely. WHO WILL YOU VOTE FOR?

Thank you for being part of this column since its dawn. Until we meet again, I wish you a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year.

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One Response

  1. […] Putting Malawi Presidential Hopefuls on the Spot while Solving Your Election Dilemma […]

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