Business mogul and politician Mohammad Sidik Mia has finally let the cat out of the bag by declaring his intention to contest as vice-president for the Malawi Congress Party (MCP) at the party’s convention.
But a political analyst has accused Mia, regarded as a political heavyweight of the twin Lower Shire Valley districts of Chikwawa and Nsanje, as lacking sensitivity by making the declaration amid a prevailing tense situation in the country’s oldest political party.
Mia made his position known yesterday when he hosted about 50 MCP shadow members of Parliament (MPs) from the Southern and Eastern regions in Blantyre.
He said: “I am vying for no other position, but the vice-presidency of the Malawi Congress Party come the convention anytime soon. That is it. I stand by it and I am very ready.”
Mia said since joining MCP—a political party that ruled Malawi during the one-party State between 1964 and May 1994—he has worked hard to ensure that he gets the position of vice-president at the convention.
The former Cabinet minister was officially welcomed into the MCP fold on July 15 2017 by MCP president Lazarus Chakwera at a political rally the party held at Mia’s home area in Ngabu, Chikwawa.
During that rally, Mia backtracked on his earlier remarks that his bouncing back into mainstream politics would not be an ordinary one, but that of vice-president.
But yesterday, he let the cat out of the bag by declaring that he was ready to challenge anybody at the party’s national convention on the position of vice-president currently held by Speaker of Parliament Richard Msowoya who is first vice-president and was Chakwera’s running mate in the May 20 2014 Tripartite Elections.
Said Mia: “There are a lot of stories coming out but the fact is real I am not challenging anybody as of now. Everybody is holding on to his position. I don’t attend the NEC [national executive committee], but come the convention, I am going to vie for the vice-presidency.”
Besides Msowoya, MCP also has MacDonald Lombola as second vice-president.
In July last year, Msowoya told The Nation that he was ready to partner Chakwera as running mate in the 2019 Tripartite Elections.
He said in part: “On 2019 [elections], I will tell you that everybody dreams big. Everybody wants good things. So, if I am given that chance as it was in 2014, I will be a very happy person. It will mean I have done a good job since the last election.”
Yesterday, Mia claimed that Malawians were looking up to MCP as the next government in 2019; hence, his joining after working tirelessly to grow the party despite being an ordinary member.
On the issue of running mate, he said: “That is the prerogative of the party president [Chakwera] to make whoever he thinks could be his running mate so I cannot say a word but if he wishes. So, yes, I am ready. But for now I am vying for the vice-presidency.”
Mia also wondered why some people were unhappy with his joining the party saying such people were “those who have loud mouths and hold positions” as there was enthusiasm among ordinary members to see a good pair for 2019.
Reacting to Mia’s declaration, MCP publicity secretary Jessie Kabwila said the party had not yet called for the convention for members to start talking about it.
She said: “However, once the convention is called, according to our party’s constitution, any member is free to run for any position.”
But a political scientist from University of Malawi’s Chancellor College, Mustapha Hussein, observed that Mia’s early declaration would add problems to the already tense situation in the party.
He said Mia should have held his announcement until after the party resolves the convention issue.
“It’s a democracy so people are free to contest in any elections but Mia ought to have been sensitive regarding the effects his announcement would have on the already tense situation in the party. My fear is this will only aggravate the tension,” observed Hussein.
He said Mia might have made the announcement probably to show his influence in the party and also to confirm that the party would hold the convention where he would compete.
During the interaction with the shadow MPs, Mia pledged to support their campaign in many aspects including morally, physically and materially.
Among the aspirants unveiled were former mayor of Blantyre City John Chikakwiya and Nyasa Big Bullets footballer Fischer Kondowe.