Learnt from a friend that Dr Cassim Chilumpha was considering being Austin Atupele Muluzi’s presidential running mate. I did not discount the story straight away but was also aware that as we move towards the Tripartite General Elections, a lot of news, false and true, and a mixture of truths and falsehoods will emerge. This is part of the general elections here. Some of the stories will have face validity only to be contested by the people mentioned in the story. Haven’t we been told before that Bingu did not want to have Mrs Joyce Banda as his running mate but had an eye on Dr Jean Kalilani. There are stories that up until the last hour when he (Bingu) was supposed to unveil his mate, Dr Kalilani’s camp believed she was the betrothed. Like a joker, there emerged Mrs Joyce Banda as the running to the chagrin of the medical doctor?
So, when I was told that Chilumpha may carry the flag with Atupele, I tried to make sense of the story. This story made sense to me didn’t it? After all the Peoples’ Party had identified another person with characteristics as him, i.e. Mr Fahad Assani. Not only were these people both lawyers and coming from the same constituency, Fahad was now gunning for Chilumpha’s constituency. Having seen this, Chilumpha may have brought this observation to the party’s politburo, who were not surprised as the plan was to have Fahad anyway. So, it made sense to me that Chilumpha may be wondering whether his welcome in the Peoples’ Party had expired. To crown it all, Chilumpha was not a cabinet minister while Fahad was.
As we discussed this Chilumpha-Atupele marriage and whether this was true or not, my friend suggested that it was suicidal that two Moslems (Atupele and Cassim) would pair up to be presidential candidates. I questioned why would it be suicidal? Because such an action would give their detractors ammunition to tear apart their alliance on account of religion. I wondered why was it that this country never protested when Bingu and Joyce were on the same ballot. Were these not both Christians? Why did they not figure out to get a Hindu, an atheist, a Bahai or a Muslim to balance up the sheet? Did people complain? Why then would people complain if two Muslims pair up as presidential candidate and their running mate? I couldn’t get clear answers. I thought may be, my friend was prejudiced against Muslims.