James Nyondo: Malawi’s best presidential hopeful in verily wrong environment

At the apex of Malawi’s pregnant political atmosphere ahead of next week’s May 20 tripartite elections, Nyasa Times Special Projects & Supplements Editor Pius Nyondo brings to the fore the profiles of all the 12 presidential candidates cutting through –especially – what they have as their vision for Malawi. In this first of the series, he profiles National Salvation Front (Nasaf) presidential hopeful James Nyondo.

If all Malawians were like the hybrid kind one finds in some of the most populous and well-to-do nations like Britain and United States of America (USA), James Nyondo would inevitably have become this country’s next State President.

That is not to rule out the fact that he can make it. No. Nyondo can as well make it – considering the strong solid faith that wavers all over his heart. As he told this reporter this week, much as it is about thirteen days to go ahead of the May 20 tripartite elections, “it is not yet too late for him to win the first ever tripartite elections.”

Nyondo has got an exceptional agility of handling matters, especially when it comes to articulating policies that he so much believes in. He talks precisely. He is logical, and has proven to be the only Malawian presidential candidate in the forthcoming polls who has nothing to do with dishing out handouts to the masses as one way of wooing votes to himself like the others do.

Nyondo: Malawi needs new leaders

Nyondo: Malawi needs new leaders

This being his second time to take part in the presidential race after he miserably lost out in the 2009 elections, Nyondo says with his National Salvation Front (Nasaf), he believes come what may he will be president of the Republic of Malawi.

 Personal Background

James Mbowe Nyondo was born on May 14, 1968 in Chitipa, Northern Malawi. He attended Blantyre Secondary School and later attended Chancellor College where he reversed his outspoken opposition to Christianity. A strong Christian, Nyondo trekked to South Africa where he completed his degree in law.

While in South Africa, he was mentored by Apostles Theo and Beverly Wolmarans who subsequently sponsored him to earn a business degree from the University of Texas at San Antonio. The couple has continues to support him in his leadership development ever since.

He came back home in 2006 to after completing his studies in the US to launch an effort he called Servants of the Nation with the goal of mentoring local leaders to address the problems of their own people.

Presidential bid: 2009 and 2014

In 2009, Nyondo submitted his nomination papers for the year’s presidential and parliamentary elections on February 4, 2014. Then, Nyondo was running as an independent candidate for the May 19 elections.

He, from his own pocket, sponsored over 120 independent parliamentary candidates by paying their K100, 000 (about $700 USD) nomination fee. He was the only independent candidate in the 2009 presidential election.

This year, Nyondo submitted his nomination papers on Thursday, the 14th of February, 2014. His running mate, like in 2009, is a woman, and her name is Ethel Peter Changa. Nyondo is the only presidential candidate who has a female for a running mate. The rest have males.

 Why he is in the race for the Malawi presidency

Nyondo, who comes from the royal family of Lambya tribe in Chitipa, says for as long as he can remember his father has “taught me how a tribal leader leads his people.”

He says since he became a born again Christian at Chancellor College his world view changed.

“From time to time, it was no longer only my tribe but the whole nation of Malawi. The amazing unfolding twists and turns of my journey have convinced me that events and situations have placed me to be at the opening chapter of a new beginning of my country,” explains Nyondo through his website www.nyondofor2014president.com.

Having spent most of his life in the US, Nyondo confesses that “the US is the one country I have spent many hours on studying to discover the source of its rise to world dominance and leadership.

“In those many hours, I have realised that the US is the country that has produced the most beneficial results for its citizens for the longest period of time. This has not happened because of its natural resources; other countries also have natural resources. This has not happened because this country is a democracy; there are many other democracies in the world.

“This has happened because the Founding Fathers of the US believed and lived by a unique set of principles and values. These principles and values helped to produce a good and prosperous government. The goodness and prosperity in this country have given the American people great compassion for other people,” opines Nyondo.

Nyondo believes that Malawi’s needs a complete leadership overhaul to turn its tables around.

“Malawi’s leadership system since independence is determined to treat its citizens like infants. We depend upon foreigners to sustain us. This cannot go on. We must develop a strong economy that is not dependent on foreign aid to survive. I believe that the principles, on which America was built, when used consistently and diligently in Malawi, will produce liberty and prosperity for our people, so that Malawi will become an inspiration to other African countries. To achieve this, we must be willing to invest in our people.

“What I want for my people is to invest help in individuals, so that they can experience self-development, become self-sufficient, be motivated to succeed, and become contributors to their society. I want them to learn the value of sacrificing today for the good of tomorrow. I want them to reach the place when they will no longer need or want government assistance. I want to create in my country an environment where people have freedom to build, to produce, and to succeed,” explains Nyondo.

And for his philosophy, he is committed to helping ordinary Malawians into becoming self-reliant individuals.

Recently, he announced his project of assisting out scores of the country’s youth with financial capital so that they roll out their own businesses.

Nyondo, a believer in mechanised agriculture in Malawi, is also distributing tractors to subsistence farmers so that they up their potentials.

“But for Malawi to achieve these goals, our government must demonstrate stability and trustworthiness – first to ourselves, and then to other nations. It is especially important to demonstrate these qualities to the other countries that help us. We must demonstrate stability and trustworthiness in conducting our national business; only through accountability and good project management can we develop private business and enterprise. We must use Malawi’s educational system for more than teaching the basic skills. We must also teach the principles of individual freedom and morality, the values of personal productivity and achievement, and the skill of self-reliance. These ideas will help us to build strong family units that will be the building blocks of our communities and our nation,”

And for that, Nyondo says whether he makes it or not as Malawi’s next president, he will be rolling out an initiative aimed at slashing by half the cost of photocopying and printing in all tertiary education institutions in Malawi.

He does not in any way believe in handouts.

“I’m not the kind of politician who turns people into political players,” he pontificates. “I can create many opportunities for our youth in so many ways. I don’t believe in dishing out 500 kwachas which our youth simply use to buy cheap sachet alcohol.”

He says that the vision he has for the country is impeccable.

“I know that the current state of my country is deplorable, and that my vision for my country is great – the gap between the two seems insurmountable. And I know that in my journey, I may make mistakes, but I will not let my personal mistakes divert me from fulfilling the vision I have for my country. We are not guaranteed success, but if we do not begin the journey, we are guaranteed failure.

“America’s Founding Fathers faced seemingly insurmountable obstacles, but they had a great vision to create this land of opportunity and freedom. And, even though the opposition and the obstacles came, they were not diverted from achieving their vision. Therefore, I have determined that I cannot let obstacles and opposition distract me from the vision of a bright future for my country,” says 46 year old Nyondo, the most youthful candidate after UDF’s Atupele Muluzi.

He claims that because of the vision he has for the country, that’s why he left the US for Malawi.

“In 2006 my wife Brenda and our little son Mulisya went back home (Malawi) to teach and champion these principles and ideas. We could have made America our home but the love of our country and the knowledge that these principles would work anywhere people embraced and lived by them compelled us to pack our bags.

“In 2009 on February 4, the nation of Malawi came to hear about a new Independent candidate by the name of James Nyondo. Elections were held on May 19th 2009. Between February 4 and May 19 I spent several weeks outside the country. The actual campaign time was about two months. Without an organization behind me, I was referred to as the dark horse in the 2009 elections. The other candidates had been campaigning for months, others for years. All of them had organizations behind them!” he says.

His campaign started in earnest in June, 2013 and this time he is very confident of victory.

“I will make it. I have reached out to almost all Malawian voters and God will definitely see me through,” hopes Nyondo.

 After May 20: What Malawians must expect

Much as he has not spelt out how he is going to do it, Nyondo is the only president who believes that Malawi does not need to have a whole big bunch of cabinet ministers.

“15 cabinet ministers only will do for Malawi,” he has argued countless times in both local and international media.

He is someone who hates extravagance and Malawians will surely be keen to see what he does as regards the matter once he becomes Malawi’s leader on May 20.

Should he win, he is expected to bring an aura of freshness onto the Malawi political arena. He will become Malawi’s first president from the Northern Region. The three former  presidents of Malawi Kamuzu Banda, Bakili Muluzi, Bingu wa Mutharika and Joyce Banda have come from the Central and Southern Regions respectively.

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