Aspiring DPP presidential candidate Henry Chimunthu Banda has fired warning shots at people in the party he believes have formed a conspiracy to discredit him ahead of the party’s convention slated for Wednesday to Friday.
Chimunthu Banda, who is also Speaker of Parliament, has since vowed that nothing will stop him from pursuing his ambition.
He said people in the party with a hatchet job against him began tarnishing his image even before DPP founding president Bingu wa Mutharika died in April 2012.
The DPP aspirant was speaking in an exclusive interview with Nation on Sunday on a wide range of issues.
Two weeks ago, outspoken DPP regional governor for the South Noel Masangwi declared that the region will support the candidacy of the party’s interim president Peter Mutharika.
Masangwi doubted whether Chimunthu Banda has the resources to finance the campaign for the presidency if he emerges victor at the convention.
But the Speaker said Masangwi’s outbursts are a sign that there are people in the party who are desperate for power.
Said Chimunthu Banda: “I will not respond to such statements so as not to dignify them. Those statements need to be viewed as signs of desperation for power which I believe are very unfortunate. However, there is information in the public domain to the effect that I have always been bad-mouthed by certain individuals in the party even when the late president Bingu wa Mutharika was alive.
“There is documentary evidence to that effect. But as if that was not enough, last year, my detractors generated a story that I have sold five houses to raise money for my DPP presidential campaign. Today, the story is that I have been given money to destabilise the party. This is very laughable!
“And I can foresee more propaganda statements coming up as we approach the 17th of April.
“I will not be deterred from achieving my set goal of offering the much-needed leadership to the only political party that I helped to form and I am its trustee. I am determined to offer my services against all odds for the furtherance of its ideals. As such, I have no ill feelings against colleagues who are peddling unfounded stories in the run-up to the convention. I take it that that’s the strategy they have opted for.”
He also said the party needs to ask itself tough questions and rebrand ahead of the 2014 tripartite elections although “it is the most popular party in the country.”
“This is so because as a party in power some 12 months ago, there might be areas where we needed to change and position ourselves for yet another victory next year.
“My view is that we need to carry out an honest analysis of the party’s strengths and weaknesses. Difficult questions must be asked and to which we must provide honest responses. By so doing, we shall show that we are not only democratic but progressive as well,” he said.
On the upcoming convention, Chimunthu Banda said he is sure that he will carry the day based on the contacts he has made with convention delegates nationwide.
He said party members at constituency, district, regional and National Governing Council levels are geared towards ushering in new leadership at the helm of the party.
Chimunthu Banda said many delegates to the convention have assured him that they want leadership that is tried and tested.
“My vision, therefore, is to have a party that encompasses the views of all its members in all the four political regions; a party that every member would truly call theirs. I want to lead a party that respects its own fundamental ideologies which were espoused at its formation. My vision is a party whose members are equal irrespective of their region of origin.
“Where there is intra-party democracy, there is collective ownership of decisions which emanate from the culture of free debate of critical issues without fear of reprisals,” said Chimunthu Banda.
He added: “Furthermore, I am looking forward to creating non-personalised leadership and to identify myself with the people as a servant leader. This is possible because my style of leadership acknowledges the fact that I am simply the first amongst equals,” he said.
On a lighter side, Chimunthu Banda, a member of the CCAP Church, revealed that he loves swimming and watching football.
He also said he enjoys taking nsima with fish, grilled or stewed.
Chimunthu Banda, 51, comes from Chipembere Village, T/A Kanyenda in Nkhotakota, and is married to Felistace, with whom he has a girl and two boys.
He holds a Master’s degree in Leadership and Change Management from Leeds Metropolitan University.
“On romantic days, we tend to listen to some old songs and albums to remind ourselves of those early days of our relationship. On such days, we normally play music of such artists as: Eric Donaldson, Don Williams, and Dolly Parton. On music: my favourite is country and western as well as reggae music. I also like listening to local music of such musicians as Skeffa Chimoto, Lucius Banda and Symon ndi Kendle just to mention a few,” he said.