There is a twist to the tale of MCP leadership as the party goes to the convention later this month after Assemblies of God president Reverend Dr Lazarus Chakwera said he is considering to contest for the party’s leadership.
Chakwera told Nation on Sunday that he has the credentials to represent a new face of hope and the future that Malawians need.
“Some people might ask: What can Chakwera bring to the presidential race that others are not bringing? I believe that I have unique competencies, charisma and character that can more fully represent the new face of hope and the future that Malawians long for,” he says in his document, titled Why I offer my service to the nation.
“I believe that I represent the kind of transformational leadership that Malawi needs to stir her from the seeming vicious cycle of mediocrity, corruption, nepotism and politics of subsistence to high levels of excellence, integrity, unity and abundance for all,” he added.
The 58-year-old religious leader said on Tuesday he has held a meeting with MCP president John Tembo to brief him on his ambition.
“Yes, I can confirm that I have been approached. My position? If people really desire that I offer my life and service to the nation in this way, I can consider it. People that have approached me have been a cross-section of the Malawian society, including some MCP members,” said Chakwera.
Asked whether he believes he would be accepted by the rank and file of the party considering that he is a newcomer in the fold, he said his friends and relatives in Mchinji, Lilongwe, Dowa and Kasungu have always been MCP supporters.
“Some of my uncles were among those who were arrested in March 1959 fighting for independence. Later, they served in some small way in the party and country. As a preacher, I have been non-partisan,” said Chakwera.
He said he has not gone out to campaign for votes at the convention because he respects party protocol, but admitted to have spoken to some people to introduce himself and explain what he is doing to make Malawi a better place for all.
On Tembo, he said he gives credit to the MCP president for ensuring that the party remains intact.
He also hailed Tembo as a person who has committed his life to serving the country.
“He [Tembo] is a democrat. He wants people to be the ones who decide who their leaders should be. And he has said such decisions are made at a convention. I respect his position. Honourable Tembo is aware that some people have approached me because I told him,” said Chakwera.
A source close to the team advancing Chakwera’s candidature said the reverend was approached to lead the party as a presidential candidate in the 2014 tripartite elections.
“People have considered that the country’s problems are mainly due to poor governance. It is in the search of leadership that the question of Chakwera has come in considering his record and leadership acumen at highest levels,” said the source.
The source said Chakwera was considered because of his leadership track record in a number of organisations and his involvement in national negotiation processes such as during the Section 65 stalemate.
“People approaching him have considered the MCP ticket as the most appropriate one considering that people are looking for change,” said the source.
MCP members should celebrate
The party’s regional secretary for the Centre Dyson Kamphambe Nkhoma confirmed that as a region, the only candidate who has expressed interest to contest for the position of president is Chakwera.
“It is true that at regional level, one day, Dr Lazarus Chakwera approached us and expressed interest to contest for presidency. We accepted him the way we are accepting everybody else because MCP is a party for everybody.
“Who are we to say no when one comes? At regional level, we have only Dr Lazarus Chakwera, maybe others will come in due course as you know we cannot force people to be coming to present themselves to our region,” he said.
Chancellor College political scientist Joseph Chunga said Chakwera provides the kind of leadership Malawi needs.
“Absolutely! I think he would be the right person because most of the current recycled politicians are trapped by old-styled politics. They cannot offer a new direction that this country seriously needs.
“Malawi needs leaders who can serve with integrity and who are prepared to part ways with the mindset characteristic of the current politicians. I think he is one of few who are capable of this,” said Chunga.
He said MCP members should celebrate any development that makes the party better, adding that Chakwera’s interest to join the presidential race is a positive move that should excite the party.
“If you consider how secretary general [Chris] Daza shot to his positions at the previous convention, it suggests that MCP grassroots are capable of accommodating those considered newcomers. At national level, this may not be as easy considering various power interests,” said Chunga.
Chakwera said the National Executive Committee of Malawi Assemblies of God, the board of Elders of International Christian Assembly (ICA) and his family are supportive of his political involvement.
“If indeed I stand and succeed, it entails that I would have to take a break from active pastoral duties. But I would not cease to be a pastor. If anything, only the context would change,” he said.
Chakwera, who comes from Lilongwe, holds a Bachelor of Arts from the University of Malawi; Bachelor of Theology (Hons) from University of the North, Sovenga, South Africa; Master of Theology from University of South Africa and a PhD from Trinity International University in USA.