MCP presidential hopefuls in Zodiak radio debate: Jumbe, Chakwera and Kanjere

Zodiak Broadcasting Services (ZBS) on Friday held its first presidential debate – between three aspirants for Malawi Congress Party (MCP) president in the forthcoming tightly contested poll.

Presidential hopefuls who have presented their nominations papers include former cabinet minister Jodder Kanjere, Malawi Assemblies of God president Rev Dr Lazarus Chakwera, current secretary general Chris Daza, former chief Justice Lovemore Munlo, former MCP secretary general Beston Majoni, former Farmers Union of Malawi (Fum) President Felix Jumbe and former MCP director of political affairs Eston Kakhome. Incumbent MCP president John Tembo is also seek a fresh mandate, rather controversially as he is barred by the party constitution to contest.

But only three candidates –Chakwera, Kanjere and Jumbe – made themselves available for the debate which was listened by millions of Malawians through the private radio and even in diaspora through online streaming.

They all said MCP’s four cornerstones of unity, loyalty, discipline and obedience are still relevant in the current democratic dispensation.

Zodiak debate: MCP presidential hopefulls

Zodiak debate: MCP presidential hopefulls

During the debate, Jumbe scored very well point by point but observers said on personality and stature it was Chakwera and Kanjere who looked “presidential materials.”

Each candidate was given equal time to explain about why they wanted to be the  president of MCP and then lead Malawi, then answered questions from moderators and the audience.

Chakwera evidently had the loudest applause.

But Jumbe  outsmarted Chakwera on economic issues when the ‘man of God’ failed to convince a group of intellectuals that were present a weakness which worked to the benefit of Jumbe who presented himself as a well-informed candidate and prepared to take on the big dogs.

The 49 year old showed knowledge on systematic agrarian economy as a way forward for Malawi.

He said: “Malawi is in need of a systems change where production and reproduction is based on the fundamental social relation between capital and labour.”

Jumbe historically gave a meaning to the use of Tambala as a long standing emblem for the MCP from its inception.

“Tambala works everybody up in the morning, and through hard labour we work to get the Kwacha, another MCP slogan, and lazy people who fail to utilize the soil will get the tambalas,” he said.

An observer Mbachi Ng’oma posted on her Facebook Timeline: “Jumbe was passionate, full of energy but lacked a 360 view; he needs to widen his spectrum. Not all who will vote for him are farmers. So far he has proved to be good material for an advisory or ministerial role.”

On Kanjere a 65-year-old technocrat, who was turned politician during the Kamuzu Banda era when he was appointed deputy minister of Works in 1989,  Ng’oma said he was “articulate when he wanted to be but quiet often disconnecting.”

According to Ng’oma, Kanjere who held various senior  positions within MCP, including administrative secretary and director of political affairs, “displayed lack of discipline and passion. He gave the impression he’s still looking for something that is long gone. He would however make a good advisor. “

The ‘Man of God’ who has been making headlines for his ‘American accent’ spoke fluently in local dialect Chichewa , which Ng’oma observed it “ turned out to be a positive strategy” as he was able to relate to the villager and those who had doubts about his identity.

“The way he related the relevance of the four corner stones to the present times was spot on and very persuasive! His closing remarks of ‘enough is enough…nothing for us without us’ was the golden seal on his blueprint,” N’goma noted.

MCP has postponed its convention to an indefinate date due to “lack of resources.”

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