Since President Peter Mutharika chose Ntcheu North Parliamentarian Everton Chimulirenji as his running mate in the May 21 Tripartite Elections, reports indicate that some top officials in the ruling party are not happy with the decision. Our reporter LLOYD CHITSULO caught up with the party’s vice-president for the South, Kondwani Nankhumwa, who some supporters in Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) expected will be picked as party’s presidential running mate, to find out if this is true.
The choice of Everton Chimulirenji as President Mutharika’s running mate has caused so much stir among DPP faithful. Some people think he was not the right choice and your name consistently came up as one of the choices. Are you bitter that you were left out?
I am not sure if I agree with you that the decision has caused a ‘stir’ within the DPP. In fact I don’t know what you really mean by that. What you must know is that there will never be a time in a democracy, more so in a big organisation like the DPP, where all people will agree with a single decision at a particular time.
So you are not bitter that you were left out?
No. To me any debate or public discourse over the choice of running-mate to President Mutharika is normal considering that we are a ruling party with a wide scope of reach. We were bound to be in the spotlight one way or another.
But does this make you question Mutharika’s leadership? I am asking this question because you have served under the Mutharika administration as a Cabinet minister since he came into power in 2014, how would you describe his leadership?
I would not think and describe of any other great leadership than the one we have under President Arthur Peter Mutharika, and I consider myself privileged to have served under him in different capacities over the years and rise through the ranks to where I am today. He is the best leader and coach that you can think of, and I believe that is the reason why he is a decorated scholar and international luminary. The DPP is blessed to have APM as its leader.
4You are not a running mate in DPP, but you will have to face off Michael Usi, a running mate to UTM party presidential candidate Saulosi Chilima in the parliamentary race for Mulanje Central. Are you not scared?
I have known Dr Michael Usi or Manganya as he is popularly known for many years; he is my friend and congratulations to him for his appointment as running mate to Saulos Chilima in this election. Those that have known me can testify that I am a true democrat who values competition and that I am always open to the alternative viewpoint in a marketplace of ideas. I certainly welcome the competition.
UTM and the former ruling People’s Party (PP) presidential candidates have picked their running-mates from the DPP stronghold districts of Mulanje and Thyolo, respectively. Are you intimidated that this would shrink DPP votes?
Politics is a highly strategic game. We know that all these political parties are coming up with various strategies because they want to beat DPP in this election. One of the strategies is to pick a running-mate from the Lhomwe Belt, which is largely perceived as our stronghold. As a party, we anticipated all these strategies and placed them accordingly. DPP is a big party and we have a requisite strategy to neutralise whatever strategy our opponents are coming up with, our biggest weapon, as I said, are the people.
But as VP for the southern region, what do you intend to do to ensure DPP remains strong in the region, especially considering that new political players want to give you a good run for your money?
DPP is a big organisation with structures and people at grassroots in all the 54 constituencies in the region. The people have always been with us and have seen what we have done for them as a party and as government, and they also know what we are capable of doing. We will not go around promising the moon to people because ours is not a desperate campaign. We will activate our structures on the ground to remind the people that our vision is on course and that they should give us five more years to continue improving their livelihoods.
Lastly, last week MEC approved nominations of presidential candidates including that of Professor Arthur Peter Mutharika, are DPP supporters excited?
This is great news and we are excited in the Southern Region with the approval of nomination papers, including that of our candidate Professor Arthur Peter Mutharika, by MEC. It is news that we were all waiting for because it means we are done with the preliminary stages; it means Professor Mutharika is set and ready to go; it means DPP’s plan to win another five year term is on course and will certainly happen.