Last week, Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) vice-president for the South, KONDWANI NANKHUMWA, declared that he will contest at the party convention for the party’s presidency amid ongoing leadership succession wrangles. He speaks to our reporter LLOYD CHITSULO. Excerpts:
What has compelled your decision to finally open up on going for the top position?
Our country has always been a case of so near and yet so far in terms of finding solutions to a myriad of challenges ranging from the economy to governance and democracy. In as much as we have changed governments since the dawn of multiparty democracy in 1993, we have not arrived yet in terms of entrenching our governance systems; the economy; national unity and dealing decisively with corruption, among other challenges.
Leadership has been found to be a critical factor that has derailed our social and economic progress as a country. There are obvious and often glaring gaps in terms of what our leaders promise and what they actually deliver, which is why I am offering myself as a leader because I believe I will offer the best alternative in terms of providing the surefooted and focused leadership that Malawi has lacked over the years.
I am also DDP’s vice-president for the Southern Region, and the next position in the party hierarchy is party president. Naturally, I have to rise to the position of party president. I do not think people would be surprised with my intention to go for the position of president of the party.
Suffice to say that politics is a dirty game, as they say. Many people within the party and outside will strive to put spanners in my works, but I will not relent until I accomplish my goal and serve Malawians with selfless integrity and dedication. Politics is not for the faint-hearted.
What new things do you bring to the party fold?
The DPP is a big institution with a functioning constitution and a solid guiding framework. The party was established based on an empowering vision that our founding father, the late Professor Bingu Wa Mutharika, had for Malawi. I will not necessarily quest to re-invent the wheel for the DPP, no.
In as much as I will seek to bring a leadership that is steeped in unity of purpose for all Malawians, I will mainly ensure that the DPP stays faithful to its guiding principles and ethos.
You may be aware that regional politics has always been the devil that has derailed the growth of intra-party democracy in almost all political parties in Malawi. I want to make the DPP a good example of intra-party democracy through the entrenchment of our democratic systems.
I will be holistic in my approach to ensure that everyone, irrespective of their religion, region, gender or tribe, is involved. I shall ensure that the DPP does away with ‘big man’ or founder syndrome. I will take the party back to the people; it belongs to them.
There have been succession wrangles in the party ever since. Where have you been going wrong as a party?
A: I don’t think there are wrangles in the DPP. I would like to call it democracy at work. The DPP is currently going through a transition period; call it metamorphosis, and if you follow Malawian politics well, activities are always high in political parties that are going through transition.
In our case, we have a situation where the current president is serving his last term; the party will be going to a national convention soon. We cannot avoid a situation where those that are looking to replace him will have to campaign so that they sell their agenda to the party rank and file.
Everywhere, that process creates emotions, sometimes anger, as everyone struggles to be heard. I do not think I would call that wrangling. What matters is how we manage the process as an institution. So far, I think we are making progress.
With the current state of affairs, are you expecting a fair convention?
I am confident that the leadership will ensure that the committee that will be selected to organise the national convention is one with integrity and above reproach to ensure that these democratic frameworks are faithfully adhered to.
Apart from that, we will also invite external stakeholders, including experts at managing elections like Malawi Electoral Commission (MEC), so that we have a representative process, which is acceptable to everyone. Do I expect a fair convention? Yes.
What is your current relationship with the party president Peter Mutharika, and other members that have shown interest to contest at the convention?
I am the vice-president of the party in the South and Professor Mutharika is our party president. Like other vice-presidents in the other regions, we regularly meet our president to discuss matters relating to our political party.
My relationship with Mutharika is, therefore, very cordial so is my relationship with other senior members in the party. Differences of opinion are always there in every institution, and that is healthy.
What is your last word?
At an appropriate time, I will lay down and communicate my comprehensive framework and game plan for the DPP and for Malawi. But I want to assure Malawians that the DPP will be rejuvenated and it will soon be the trusted institution again to take Malawi to the next level of political, social and economic development.n