The emergence of the Saulos Chilima-led United Transformation Movement (UTM) seems to have shaken the country’s political landscape ahead of the 2019 Tripartite Elections. Political parties and politicians alike are now repositioning themselves ahead of the polls. But in this interview, Freedom Party secretary general, Steven Njobvuyalema, tells FATSANI GUNYA that the party did not come into existence just to add on the numbers; it is a force to reckon with.
About a year has elapsed since the Freedom Party was established. Why do you still seem to be in hibernation?
I can’t say we have been quiet per se. As a politician, I choose to call it strategising; and trust me, we are making strides as far as we are concerned. For sure, we can’t just form a party and keep doing nothing about it in a year. Soon, all our critics will be silenced. Just move around the country, and ask the people about the party. The time we registered this party, it was already on the ground. Besides, we represent some transformative ways of doing things; hence, not all can buy it that we are making progress. Our pillars as a party compel us to approach politics differently. We are promising a Malawi with a fresh mindset in approaching life. Don’t expect name calling or politics of castigation from us; that’s why we settled for the name Freedom Party.
What unique thing does Freedom Party bring to Malawians?
I would say because we have three pillars as a party, and unlike the other parties, we are willing to live by them all the way. This country needs to be built on those very same pillars. They include unity, justice and peace. If there is justice in the country, definitely we couldn’t talk about cash gate [plunder of public resources], mismanagement of public funds, corruption and crime. We also feel no nation can prosper if it has its people pulling in opposite directions. We also need stability to foster socio-economic development. But nothing is more crucial to building a nation than justice. This aspect is to do with fairness and equality among all citizens irrespective of one’s religious, tribal or political affiliations.
Which of the three pillars of your party has been missing in the country’s governance structure?
Justice has been missing. Malawi has relatively enjoyed peace for years, and to some extent, there has always been some sense of unity. But every time voters go for change in an election, injustice is the reason. For instance, the fact that former President Bakili Muluzi is still being dragged to court since 2005 speaks volumes of what an inefficient justice system we have in this country. Besides, how many people are rotting in our prisons for a crime they did not commit while the big fish are going scot free? The list is endless.
Should people in the country bank on your party for solutions to current problems?
It is not just by coincidence what our priority agenda is once we form the next government under the leadership of Khumbo Kachali in 2019. We are here to help heal Malawi from its social-economic sorrows. We plan to do this by addressing the social injustice issue ahead. We will push for justice by adequately funding the judiciary and ensuring it has enough personnel and resources to effectively manage its business. Besides, the party’s president and founder is well versed in the country’s political space so much that his experience will prove vital as we head towards the election.
When will the party hold a convention before the elections and who will challenge Kachali?
We will shortly call for a convention. We are a democratic party. All positions are up for grabs. This includes the president’s, unless he delegates settle for an endorsement. We just don’t subscribe into forcing candidates on the people. Kachali did come up with the party with one eye on the country’s presidency. He is ready to respect the will of the people. Anyone carrying the day from our party will be expected to use the party’s blueprint in fostering good governance. The nation lacks insightful leadership that can move things for the better.
Which of the parties would you be ideal to partner with to stand a chance of claiming something come May, 2019?
The sound of the question suggests that we can’t get anything on our won, right? But you are wrong. No party is useless, politically, unless it remains a briefcase party. You just don’t have an idea of what we are doing on the ground. Currently, we don’t see any party we can partner with based on what is being demonstrated politically. Unless others transform, all the others are one and the same. For now, I can only urge Malawians to stick together in enhancing the change we all need becomes a reality. Since we can only do this through the ballot, I urge everyone legible to go and register to vote.