WHY I JOINED THE OPPOSITION MALAWI CONGRESS PARTY (PART ONE)
‘EVERYBODY WEIGHS CHANCES IN LIFE’
On Saturday [15th July, 2017], former Peoples Party vice President (South) who is also former MP for Chikwawa Nkombezi Constituency, joined the Malawi Congress Party (MCP) at a rally presided over by party president Reverend Dr Lazarus Chakwera. Malawi News’s HARD TALK ON SATURDAY [22 July, 2017] caught up with Mia to find out why he had to retire from political retirement. Excerpts.
What has made you to retire from retirement and rejoin politics?
There has been an outcry in the country and, seeing what I did during my tenure of office as a parliamentarian for Chikwawa Nkombezi as well as during my the time I served as Cabinet minister in different portfolios in several administrations, people saw my capabilities and saw that there are things I am able to perform as I did during my 10 years as a politician. I retired because, having served as MP and Cabinet Minister, I felt it was enough. However, looking at the present political scenario, and examining my own potential and capabilities, I felt the urge to go back to [into politics]. If you had asked me at the time [I retired] to rejoin politics, I would have said no. I would have told you that there is a new government in place; let us give it time. We had new leadership that needed time to work and put their plans in action. But pressure has been mounting on me to bounce back into politics, so that people can be served better. Looking at the current scenario, I and my family, after consulting, made a decision that I should go back and serve the people. I believe in charity, helping people. I and my family have been doing it for a long time and, now, we say and I believe that ‘the best form of charity is politics’. In politics, you serve everybody and that is why I have rejoined politics.
And why MCP?
You have seen the performance of many political parties. You have seen how parties have performed over the years [since Malawi attained multiparty politics in 1994]. You have seen the service they have rendered to the people and you may have analyzed how they have performed over the years. Now, I have looked and looked, carefully looked, at what has been achieved in the last few years. Issues of democracy, performance; I have looked at issues such as the ability to serve and, for me, to serve better. So I chose a political party that is in line with my own principles. Since my main principles hinge on serving the people better, I have chosen MCP. Looking at its previous achievements, looking at its performance history, everybody cannot deny MCP, under the leadership of the late founding president [of Malawi] Ngwazi Dr Hastings Kamuzu Banda, did in those years in terms of [development]. The infrastructure done by Dr Banda. Road infrastructure, agricultural infrastructure, you name it, were the best. The same with the economy, it was the best. You can see for yourself that, even democratically, who would say that political parties are democratic these days? MCP is the only party with democratic values. What I am talking about is the truth and right. Look at the scenario where Dr Banda relinquished power to a democratically elected president [Dr Bakili Muluzi] after multiparty elections and even conceded defeat before vote counting ended; he could have done other things to block that or to frustrate the process. After all, he was leading a one party government. But he accepted to relinquish power. Not only that; later, he handed over the presidency to Gwanda Chakuamba who won at a convention, and it must be pointed out that Gwanda was from the Lower Shire and not Kasungu district and he was not a relation to Kamuzu. Later, after Gwanda, John Tembo became the President, who was not from the Lower Shire and, indeed, later through a democratic process, Honorable Chakwera became the party president. This is unlike what is happening in other parties.
Some people and parties are alleging that your joining MCP would bring confusion in that party considering that you are bringing in your own people, hence the risk of establishing parallel structures. What do you say?
I had no party when I decided to join the MCP. I belong to no party until my joining MCP. You will eventually see that I will work with the existing MCP structures and I have no intention to confuse anything that already exists but will follow the status quo. Yes, people will join MCP with me, but whoever wants to join the MCP should be prepared to be an ordinary member just like I did. I have told them that they should respect that. Of course, with the right time, where there are [chances] to be elected, people are free to contest, in tandem with democracy. As a mere member, whatever I can do or the people [and party] feels I am able to do, I will do. It is up to the people to entrust me with whatever position they would want me to serve in. Currently, rest assured there is no confusion; there are no parallel structures and no one should anticipate that. I have worked with parties before, and you should realize that my changing parties was [circumstantial]. I am not the one who moved who moved from the UDF [United Democratic Front] to DPP, but it was Dr Bingu Wa Mutharika who let us form the DPP after he won under UDF ticket and moved from it. Equally, I never chose Dr Joyce Banda to be vice President of DPP, and did not choose to be PP. When Dr Joyce Banda became president [after the demise of Bingu], she asked me to serve her government. I had to respond to the constitution [as she was constitutionally supposed to be president], and I accepted to serve.
What do you think is the right position of Honorable Richard Msowoya?
I cannot talk about somebody else; it is not my wish. He is the vice president of the MCP and he remains so. I will always respect him for that and give him all due respect. That is what I will always do. He has to be respected as the vice president of our party and, mind you, he is the speaker of Parliament and he has to be accorded respect for that too. He deserves to be respected.
When you were being welcomed in MCP, you said you are not joining MCP to grab anyone’s position but earlier, you told Malawians that you could not accept nothing less than the vice presidency. How do you explain this?
Everybody has aspirations and everybody has ambitions when they are doing things. Even a businessman would want to be a billionaire, but it does not mean they will be one. When one marries, a couple aspires to have children but it does not always come to that. Everybody has aspirations and targets. When I started politics as MP, I wanted to be a Cabinet Minister and worked really hard to earn that position. I am not refusing that when a chance comes up I cannot grab it; why not? Well, everybody weighs chances in life and I have capabilities as a politician and I have ambitions too. But it depends on the people to see those capabilities in me. If the time comes and people think I have such capabilities to put me into the ranks and file of the party, I will serve.
Should the MCP president not make you running mate, are you not going to dump the party as you did with PP?
I will help Dr Lazarus Chakwera in any manner. I will do my best to make sure that Dr Chakwera becomes the next state president of the republic of Malawi in 2019. I believe he is the only person that can better articulate issues and policies Malawians want. I feel for Malawi people, I feel for our country and believe Dr Lazarus Chakwera is the one that can make a good leader for the country.
After serving in the UDF, DPP and the PP, what change are you bringing to the MCP?
I am one who is able to unite people, one who can make people do the right things politically, and I have a lot of things I can offer in terms of experience and skills. I will explain more when time comes.
And what is your message to Malawians?
I want to tell my dear parents, brothers, sisters [Malawians] colleagues, and friends that Malawi can change. Malawi can reclaim its glory. You are aware that we are ranked one of the very poorest countries globally. Malawi has very hardworking people who, if given a chance, can help make the country better. We have capabilities to make our country change for the better. And if we don’t deep our fingers in national coffers, the resources we have–from people to taxes–can help make our country economically grow for the better.