Members of the former governing People’s Party (PP) yesterday re-elected immediate past president Joyce Banda as party president during their second national elective convention held at Robin’s Park hall in Blantyre.
During the elections conducted by the Malawi Electoral Commission (MEC), Banda amassed votes from 1101 delegates against a miserable 23 for her sole challenger and little-known Leonard Mphiza.
Kasungu North legislator Beatrice Mwale retained the position of vice-president (VP) for the Central Region after scooping 678 votes against Peter Kamange’s 447 votes while James Munthali won the post of treasurer general after getting 739 votes against 401 for Yusuf Matumula.
In the race for the post of director of youth, Ipyana Nthakomwa excelled with 638 votes against Lackson Stambuli’s 478 votes.
Initially, there were five positions that were set to be contested for as the rest went unopposed. But in a twist of events, Rumphi East legislator Kamlepo Kalua, who was the incumbent VP for the North, withdrew from the race and let Nkhata Bay Central member of Parliament (MP) and leader of PP in Parliament Ralph Mhone go unopposed.
But Kalua’s decision to withdraw from the race did not go down well with some of the delegates who were overheard shouting: “Ayime! Ayime! [Let him contest!].”
Other PP officials who went in unopposed were Banda’s son and Zomba Malosa MP Roy Kachale as VP for Eastern Region, Ephraim Chivunde as VP for the Southern Region, secretary general Ibrahim Matola and Nayi Mtunga as director of women.
In an interview after her re-election, Banda said she will focus on strengthening her party as the country is approaching the May 21 2019 Tripartite Elections.
She asked her new national executive committee (NEC) members to remain loyal to the party and its membership.
Said Banda: “I would not have barred anyone from contesting. None of this was even planned. If we were to select someone just for show to contest with me, we would have done that and selected someone from town…”
On how PP will context the next election after earlier pulling out of a planned opposition working relationship with other parties, Banda said a decision will be made in the interest of the party and they are open to join forces with anyone as long as they share same ideologies.
Mphiza, on the other hand, said he will remain loyal to PP and support Banda despite his loss.
He said: “I am part and parcel of this party. We are in a democracy. Two cannot win at once. There can only be one winner and one loser. I still remain a member of this party.”
PP finished third to Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) with 26 legislators in the May 20 2014 Tripartite Elections.