Vice-President Khumbo Kachali yesterday formally completed his return to opposition Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) with a plea for the Northern Region to bury all the grudges and vote for the party which in December 2010 expelled him alongside President Joyce Banda.
At exactly 3.30pm, Kachali, whose political future has been hanging in the balance since Banda opted for her Minister of Industry and Trade Sosten Gwengwe as running mate, arrived at Mzimba Community Centre ground amid songs, ululation and hand-waving befitting a prodigal son.
The return of the prodigal son seemed to have been such an overwhelming sight even for DPP presidential candidate Peter Mutharika and former Minister of Finance Goodall Gondwe as they arrived on the back of a blue pick-up 10 minutes later. The vehicle slowed down, the two faced each other, looked at the podium where Kachali was seated with a suppressed smile and shared a broad laugh seemingly in acknowledgement that they had netted no small fish.
Jubilation and amazement was the prevalent mood when Kachali was asked to introduce himself.
“Mose njowe muchanya! Abo batumika, zimukoleni soni zamajungu! [Those who love me, raise your hands! Those who have hidden motives, shame on you!],” the words of destiny exploded from Kachali’s mouth as he rejoined the party which ejected him alongside Banda (then State Vice-President and DPP first vice-president) for allegedly forming parallel party structures.
As the joviality died into calm, Kachali said his message was two-pronged, but he ended up saying three things.
Having boycotted Banda’s rally in the Northern Region this week, Kachali yesterday endorsed Mutharika as “the only presidential candidate worth of votes from the North.”
Kachali said by rejecting him, Banda rejected northerners and he called on voters in the region to vote for Mutharika as they did with Bingu in 2009.
Calling himself a living example of reconciliation, Kachali asked the people from the North not to keep any grudge against DPP, saying there is no ruling party that has never wronged the region, but PP is worse.
He said he was impressed with Mutharika because he is the only candidate who has assured Malawians that he will end the quota system of selecting students to public universities.
However, for the record, Banda, Malawi Congress Party (MCP) president Lazarus Chakwera, United Democratic Front (UDF) presidential candidate Atupele Muluzi and James Nyondo leading the National Salvation Front (Nasaf) are also on record to have pledged to end quota system of selecting students to public institutions of higher learning which was controversially introduced by DPP during Bingu’s rule.
Kachali also called on Mutharika to keep his promise when he rises to power, as tipped by Afrobarometer opinion poll which put him ahead of MCP and PP.
The Veep cemented his Passover by leading the audience in a chorus of Hymn 192 in reference to a biblical verse in which quotes Jesus says: “If you deny me in the presence of the world, I will deny you before my father.”
Clearly, this was payback time, an avowed vengeance in reaction to the appointment of Gwengwe as JB’s running mate, a thing he termed “a vote of no confidence” in his immediate reaction.
Taking his turn, Mutharika said he was surprised with Kachali’s endorsement.
“I accept your endorsement. We will work together. There is no north, centre, south, east or west. These are colonial demarcations.
“We need to work together as we always did. Malawi is going through several problems. Talk about Cashgate, Jetgate, Nkhukugate, Nkhumbagate, Goatgate, Cowgate, gate, gate, gate.”
Mutharika, who was Minister of Justice Constitutional Affairs when Bingu introduced the quota system in 2010, reiterated that he would abolish the system, which has always been a thorny electoral issue in the Northern Region, by building Mombera University in Mzimba and other universities promised by Bingu.
He also pledged to construct the Mzimba-Kafukule-Njakwa-Livingstonia Road, Jenda-Edingeni Road and Rumphi-Nyika-Chitipa Road.
Ironically, Banda recently laid a foundation stone for the Jenda-Edingeni Road whereas part of the Mzimba-Kafukule-Ekwendeni Road is under construction.