Retired political heavyweight Gwanda Chakuamba might not be enjoying robust health, but there is some great news from his camp.
The 81-year-old has authored a book exposing the inside story of his passions from his enigmatic prominence and detention at the height of Malawi Congress Party (MCP) tyrannical rule to his slump and twilight in the New Republican Party which he founded in 2005.
His right-hand man Moses Dossi Snr tells Nation online that Gwanda was geared to “unveil his book anytime soon” when he was admitted to Malamulo Adventist Hospital in Blantyre early this week.
“A book is almost out which details what the veteran politician has gone through. The publishers are still doing the final touches, but he mentioned the book when we met last week. Before he went to Malamulo, he indicated that it was almost ready and it will be will be released any time soon.” Dossi said.
The cover of his memoirs, Malignant Loyalty – No Regrets, has been leaked online. It indicates the aged political giant from the Lower Shire Valley, where he served as legislator of Nsanje North, has worked with Dr Felix Lombe to immortalise his ups and downs.
Born April 4 1934, Chakuamba held executive positions in the first half of the one-party regime, including multiple cabinet posts and command of the disbanded paramilitary Malawi Young Pioneers.
In 1980, the fearless critic of MCP strongman John Tembo was jailed for on accusations of sedition which he denies.
He walked free in July 1994, just weeks after Malawians had elected multiparty politics in a historic referendum that ended MCP monopolistic reign.
Chakuamba’s triumphant release marked a brief sojourn in United Democratic Front (UDF) before he switched back to MCP where he was named secretary general and leader of a triumvirate that summarily run the country when the then president, Kamuzu Banda, jetted off to South Africa for specialist medical attention.
His run in pluralistic politics came to a head in February 1995 when he got Banda’s endorsement to stand as MCP presidential candidate in 1999.
However, Chakuamba lost the June 15 polls despite partnering with Alliance for Democracy (Aford) founding tsar, the late Chakufwa Thom Chihana. The loss marked the beginning of the end of his reign in the party as a renewed feud with Tembo loomed large over his banishment.
Chakuamba’s ambitious race to presidency slumped in controversial style in 2004 when he founded Republican Party and stood on the ticket of the ostensibly famous Mgwirizano Coalition, but came third-best behind UDF victor Bingu wa Mutharika.
His supporters had yet come to terms with the loss he was contesting in court when Gwanda was seen on television hanging out with UDF grandmaster-cum-founder Bakili Muluzi.
He withdraw the case, announced deregistration of RP and defected to Bingu’s newly formed Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) following his appointment as Minister of Agriculture in February 2005.
However, he was kicked out of Cabinet seven month later.
This expulsion put him back on a familiar road as he formed the New Republican Party having failed to reclaim his throne in the supposedly scraped RP.
He announced his retirement from the only career he has known since 1964 early this year at Nchalo in Chikwawa where he pledged to “die serving DPP and [the incumbent] President Peter Mutharika”
His voyage in search of power attest to a schemer who kept leaving when the chips were down, but it will be interesting to grab Malignant Loyalty and figure out what the nomadic politician really believed in and why he does not regret what reads like a tale of few hits and many misses.