Vice-President Khumbo Kachali has stated that it will be “a vote of no confidence” if President
Joyce Banda does not consider him for the position of running mate on the governing People’s Party (PP) ticket.
Kachali said this in an interview on Wednesday amid speculation that Minister of Industry and Trade Sosten Gwengwe is the front runner to be Banda’s running mate in the May 20 presidential election.
Said Kachali: “It’s the President’s prerogative [to choose a running mate who eventually becomes vice-president to the winning candidate], but if I’m not picked, then it’s a vote of no confidence in me.
“We just wait and see and let the President exercise her constitutional right. Let’s cross the bridge when we reach it.”
Banda appointed Kachali as Vice-President after she ascended to the presidency on April 7 2012 in line with constitutional order after the death of former president Bingu wa Mutharika. The duo had earlier been dismissed from Mutharika’s governing Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) in December 2010 for allegedly forming parallel structures.
The President, who left Lilongwe on Wednesday evening for Blantyre, is expected to submit her nomination papers to Malawi Electoral Commission (MEC) officials tomorrow at the Comesa Hall in Blantyre.
On whether the President has given him a hint on the choice of running mate, Kachali said: “I talk to the President on several issues, but I cannot begin saying what we discuss. That will be unlawful, but let’s wait and see. We’ll make a statement later.”
By lunch hour yesterday, all pointers were clear that Gwengwe, who is member of Parliament (MP) for Dedza Central Constituency, was the only one left in JB’s sieve.
A source at Parliament also indicated that Gwengwe has since resigned from the position of MP. The law requires presidential candidates or their running mates to quit any public office they hold before submitting their nomination papers.
On the other hand, a member of JB’s inner circle confided to The Nation that Gwengwe has long been groomed for the position, beginning with his shift from deputy minister to MG3 ministerial vehicle registration when he was appointed Minister of Industry and Trade.
Said one JB confidant: “This young man [Gwengwe] has been postured for that for some time and yet some elderly men couldn’t read that and started talking ill of him to HE.”
Gwengwe could not immediately be reached for comment but when one of our journalits congratulated him on facebook he responded: “Thanks.”
Speaker Henry Chimunthu Banda, through whose office MPs resign, said: “I have been bombarded with these questions, but I am currently in Nkhotakota, so I don’t have any information.”
Pitching of Gwengwe’s name means JB has decided to leave Kachali who is also PP vice-president for the Northern Region as well as her other two deputies— Uladi Mussa (Central Region) and Brown Mpinganjira (Southern Region).
Commenting on the developments, president of Political Science Association, Joseph Chunga, shared Kachali’s sentiments, saying: “When you have a sitting vice-president, you can only expect that one to be running mate. When parties are running as serious systems, you expect that to be the case.”