One of the constituencies to watch in the shire valley during the forthcoming 2019 tripartite elections will be Nsanje North Constituency whose incumbent Member of Parliament (MP) is Mcheka Chilenje, the deputy speaker of parliament.
The stakes are now high in the constituency following the defection of the ruling Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) shadow MP to the opposition Malawi Congress Party (MCP), Enock Chizuzu. The Chizuzu defection was engineered by the lower shire political heavyweight who is also vice President of MCP, Sidik Mia. During a press conference last week, Mia bragged that he had sealed the lower shire with the defection of Chizuzu claiming that Chizuzu is a quality candidate—a “frontrunner “ in as far as the 2019 parliamentary race in the constituency is concerned.
Yesterday was the litmus test for Mia to prove his word that Chizuzu was the missing puzzle to complete the Lower Shire’s jig saw puzzle and the venue was Fatima boys primary school ground in East Bank.
Passing the dusty and bumpy road, east of Thabwa on our way to Fatima was indeed a roll coaster. What a bad road it is and no wonder Mia expressed his displeasure on the state of the road and promised the people that MCP would construct a good and durable tarmac road once they are ushered into power next year.
The first stop was Livulunzu in Chikwawa East Constituency whose incumbent MP is Rodrick Khumbanyiwa of United Democratic Front (UDF).
This was just a simple whistle stop tour but the crowd was so telling. Here, two shadow MCP MPs for the constituency were introduced with other two shadow councilors as well. We then proceeded to Mitondo in the same Chikwawa Constituency where again the same Shadow Mps were introduced.
In all these two places, it was a battle of the shadow MPs and councilors, trying to show Mia who among them was the darling of the people gauging by the degree of loudness, excitedness and chanting from their supporters each time Mia’s mentioned their preferred candidate.
The scene truly gave a picture of how competitive and attractive MCP has become in the southern region and in the shire valley in particular.
“We will start conducting primary elections soon. As officials, we will ensure a very credible election. We won’t take sides. The people, your people, will decide who they want but when you lose, please support the winning candidate,”Mia advised as the shadow MPs nodded in agreement.
But as we passed through Livulunzi heading to Mitondo, we encountered a funeral ceremony and Mia had to order an immediate stop of the convoy in order to condole the bereaved family.
Ironically, the deceased was a Sheik, and Mia being a Muslim, he joined fellow senior Muslim officials at the funeral in reciting prayers. He then delivered his eulogy and condoled the bereaved family including the chiefs who were gathered at the function with some money.
This reporter heard one member of the audience at the funeral saying “this man is humble. I thought he would demand a chair to sit on but look, he is there seated on the ground just like we have done. I am impressed.”
After he was done, we were then released to proceed to Fatima ground. News had spread, perhaps through a radio advert the party aired, that Mia would be heading to Fatima and there were all people—small groups gathering along the road—waiting to see and wave Mia as he passed by. It was an interesting scene from Mitondo to Fatima such that a sizeable group of people had to block the road— demanding that Mia addresses them failing which they would not give him license to proceed to Fatima.
The MCP Vice President had no option but to comply with the wishes of his people and there he briefly addressed them just to meet their requirement of obtaining visa to enter Fatima.
After enduring the long, bumpy and dusty road, we knew that we had arrived at the venue. The youths were ready to welcome their leader. What a triumphant entry to Fatima ground Mia had yesterday.
The excited people danced and chanted ‘Mbuya, Mbuya, Mbuya”referring to Mia. Mbuya is a Sena word which refers to a fatherly figurehead—someone they must listen to and look up to for help, direction and guidance—in short, their leader. Late Gwanda Chakuwamba first enjoyed the title and upon his death, the people of the lower shire coroneted Sidik Mia as their new Mbuya.
Arriving at the actual Fatima ground, a sea of people which had gathered burst into uncontrollable excitement and chanting as part of them was escorting Mia to first address the chiefs who had gathered in a hall nearby the rally venue for a brief confidential talk.
Few minutes later, Mia was escorted back to the rally venue where the exciting multitude had gathered waiting to hear from him.
In his remarks, Mia said was pleased to note that Chizuzu, an influential candidate who is a darling of the people like himself, had decided to join forces. He claimed that the combination of the two is unbeatable.
He was therefore optimistic that Enock Chizuzu would make it into parliament next year thereby dethroning the Deputy Speaker of Parliament Mcheka Chilenje whom constituents have accused of paying a blind eye to their plight and suffering.
Chizuzu! The people shouted on top of their voices when Mia asked who they are going to vote for in 2019 as their MP.
This reporter surprised with such a huge and exciting pro Chizuzu audience asked few people in the audience to find out the real situation on the ground.
“Chizuzu has been contesting as MP in this area and has not been successful all these years, we have tried these other people (MPs) but they have failed us. In 2014, he came a strong second—the difference with the current MP in terms of votes was small and with the dismal performance from the lady MP, she is more likely to face a political tsunami next year, “collaborated a few Nsanje North citizens.
“It will be like a replica of Nsanje Lalanje constituency and also watch Nsanje Central Constituency of Minister Francis Kasaira, there will be an upset that side as well. Kafa Mandivani, the shadow MP there is being loved by the people like it has never been seen, “said another person adding “Nsanje North and the whole lower shire in particular has now returned to its original tent” meaning it has now fully embraced MCP just like it was when late Gwanda Chakuwamba was President of the party.
Mia assured the people that he will not leave them alone both in good as well as in sour moments.
“I promise that I will not leave you alone no matter what,” said Mia who has a track record of helping people in the lower shire.
“We will revamp the (rice) irrigation schemes and we will once more going to be the breadbasket of Blantyre and the entire upland districts. We will repair and restore the rail line for easy transportation of our goods,” Mia promised after citing a catalogue of other promises on how his party will improve the health sector, education system and also on how they will create employment.
During the rally, Mia was accompanied by the party’s deputy secretary General Salim Bagus, the only MCP lawmaker in the southern region, Lawrence Sitilo and other senior party officials.