The ruling People’s Party (PP) is reeling under the weight of what some say is a botched primary process that saw several aspirants protesting results. One such hopeful is the party’s deputy publicity secretary Ken Msonda. EPHRAIM MUNTHALI speaks to him on the implications of this problem on people like him and the party in general:
My commiserations, sir, on your loss to Mr. Kamlepo Kalua during the People’s Party (PP) primary elections in Rumphi East
Well, thank you, but I accepted the outcome and I am moving on with my work in the party as well as personal development endeavours, including entrepreneurship.
But you protested the results, claiming there were irregularities. Why the change of heart? I mean, what was the point of the protest if all it has achieved is to take you back to where you were?
I will be very honest with you and the Malawian people. As a party, we made some mistakes not just in my constituency, but several others as well. And as a party, we have a responsibility to own up to those mistakes, learn lessons from them and do better next time. That is how you grow as an organisation. Given that PP is a learning organisation, I felt duty bound to protest by pointing out the weaknesses that were there in the primaries as a learning point, not necessarily for me to be given a second chance or whatever. Today, I am happy to report that the leadership of the party has listened not just to my concerns but also those of several candidates and members. Therefore, at this stage, the PP family is focusing on winning the election, having absorbed our lessons.
But there are some PP members who have either resigned or are considering leaving the party after frustrations in primary elections. Where is this PP unified force you are talking about?
I understand the frustrations of my colleagues and I share their pain, having gone through the same myself. I have a lot of respect for most of these people. They have been very supportive of the President and the party’s agenda. I also salute them for coming forward to offer their services to their constituents. It is a level of sacrifice that only those who have been in a campaign can understand. It is because of the respect I have for these people coupled with my appreciation of the contributions they have made to the party and the President that I ask them to reflect deeply on their decisions and reconsider. The party needs them. The people have spoken and let us accept that.
Life in politics does not begin and end with being a Member of Parliament. There are several ways through which we can serve Malawians within the policy framework of our party. Knowing most of these colleagues as I do, I do not believe that they want to be antagonistic towards the party that I am sure they love and believe in so much. That is why I am confident that these misunderstandings have already blown over and our party has emerged from them stronger than ever before.
Your point about there being several ways of serving is an interesting one. It prompts me to ask you about what I have heard regarding Mr. Joseph Chikwemba, the PP national executive committee (NEC) member who lost to one Mayi Nangozo in Zomba Central. I am reliably informed Mr. Chikwemba has been offered a job by the administration at one of the embassies. Should we assume that you will be pacified in the same way?
I certainly have not heard anything about an embassy job for Mr. Chikwemba. But should that be the case, I would be very happy for him for two reasons. First, Mr. Chikwemba is young, which means that should it be indeed true that he is going to the embassy, he will not just be representing Malawi on sovereign duties, but he will also be an ambassador for the Malawian youths; a beacon of hope of the possibilities that await our youths. Second, I will be happy because appointing such a youthful person into such a position of influence is in line with the PP policy of promoting youths. It, therefore, means that as a party, we are walking the talk, which is refreshing given that most political parties in Malawi break too many of the promises they make in their manifestos. As for me, my passion is to serve the President. It does not matter where and in what capacity.
So, now that your dreams of becoming a parliamentarian are up in flames, so to speak, what is your next step?
Well, there has been a derailment but as they say, you can’t kill a dream. It is still there and will become reality once the time is right. But to return to your question, in the short-term, I will be occupied with three things. First, I will be helping the State President in developing the country and strengthening the party. Second, I will be working very hard to ensure that President Banda wins with a resounding majority on May 20 and that PP has a comfortable majority in Parliament for us to smoothly carry out our agenda for the country. Thirdly, I will be working very hard in my constituency to elect Mr. Kamlepo Kalua as my Member of Parliament for the common good. I am a firm believer in the biblical teaching of do unto others as you would want them do unto you. In other words, if I were in Mr. Kalua’s shoes, how would I want him to behave towards me? That is my guiding principle.
Anything you would like to add?
Yes. In any organisation, there will always be differences of opinion more so in a political party operating in a democratic environment. But what brings the numerous people together is the common goal, the common purpose. If we always remember our common purpose, it comes easy to forget the pain and remain part of the organisation so that together, we can achieve our goal—our common purpose. The PP has a very strong candidate in President Joyce Banda with a clear shared agenda and where we want it to take us. Let us not lose sight of that. Thank you.