On the Fast Lane of Malawi: Don’t write off Chilumpha’s party

Many have frowned upon and written off the new party formed by Dr. Cassim Chilumpha—the People’s Assembly for Democratic Development (PADD)—saying the country already has 40-something parties with the majority of them only existing as names. Some have wondered what new ideas the new party will bring on the country’s political landscape with its founding president having served in the United Democratic Front (UDF) as secretary general and People’s Party (PP) as vice-president for the Central region. Yet others have described Chilumpha as a political castaway.



But I will not jump on the bandwagon of bashers for Chilumpha. I have a lot of respect for this man. He may have been inactive politically for some time now, but get it from me he is not a spent force, and surely not riff raff.

I have known Chilumpha since the era of the transition from single party to multi-party politics around 1992—1994 alongside the likes of the late Mapopa Chipeta, Matemba Mzunda, and many others. Very eloquent people who played a crucial role in the fight against single party politics in the country.

Chilumpha is one very intelligent and calculating person. Some people are intelligent but not clever. Some are clever but not intelligent, but Chilumpha is both clever and intelligent. These attributes have made him what he is: a distinguished lawyer, academician, former state vice-president of the Republic of Malawi. His political astuteness has made him serve as publicity secretary of the United Democratic Front (UDF), cabinet minister, UDF secretary general, vice-president of the People’s Party for the Central Region and the litany of titles goes on and on. Not too long ago, he surprised many of his contenders for the position of vice-president of the PP for the Central Region when some took him as an underdog but beat them all to the position. Such that when I learned that he had formed a political party I said aha! Let us see. He must be up to something.

I am, therefore, not very clueless as to why he has formed a formed a new political party. My hypothesis is that he has an agenda for which the party is the platform.

To start with, Dr Chilumpha who is a very good friend of mine is a very affable person. That is a plus for him. He relates well with people from many backgrounds. He is fluent in Chichewa, speaks very good Chitumbuka and I think he also understands ChiYao. So he will be at home with audiences of many language backgrounds.

I will also not be fooled by the choice of words that make his party’s name which some say is a mouth full. Many will definitely struggle to mention it. But the abbreviation is conveniently short and easy to remember—PADD. That is what will eventually gain currency, or simply People’s Assembly. How many people still remember that DPP stands for People’s Democratic Party?

The newest party may not be more democratic than those already on the ground, nor with better development plans than the other 46 or so on the country’s political registers. But I tell you it has been formed for a purpose. And it will go on to achieve that goal, noble or not.

Chilumpha is also not just trying to reposition himself in the political playground already overcrowded with what some describe as briefcase parties. I tell you forming a brand new party is a well-calculated strategy that will gain him more mileage than if he just joined any of the many dormant ones.

That said, given that the majority of Malawi’s politics have strongholds in the region and districts of their founders, I would be worried if I were Dr Lazarus Chakwera, Malawi Congress Party president. Chilumpha comes from Nkhota-kota which is in the Central Region where MCP holds sway.If my memory serves me well, PADD will be the second party in the Central Region after the good old MCP whose president is from the Centre. Compare that with the many political parties in the North and South.

Given also that religion plays a role in political party affiliation in the country, I have good reason to believe that PADD may command a good following from members of the same faith as its founder—the Muslim community. But I will return to this later.

For now, let me dwell on the issue of PADD as breaking into a territory that has been dominated by MCP for over 51 years. Some call it Chipani cha makolo. My hypothesis is that PADD has strong links with the DPP.

There is no question that DPP is struggling to gain a foothold in the Central Region where the party has only a handful of MPs. This is the region where one MCP candidate is challenging a sitting DPP MP. When the court ruled that a rerun be held in a constituency in the Capital City, where results are being contested, a whole Malawi Electoral Commission warehouse in Lilongwe was gutted by fire. Shouldn’t Malawians be afraid, indeed very afraid? But I digressed.

DPP would, therefore, do everything and anything in its powers to sponsor a political party with the potential of decimating its strongest rival the Central Region.

DPP’s first scheme was to bury UDF. We all know the story. Having done that, the party now has its sight set on how to get the Central Region. And helping to form or support a party in the region that has the muscle to split the MCP vote should be a very welcome idea for DPP.

On his part, Chilumpha has nothing to lose. With such an arrangement he could soon be eating at the high table. As for the senior Muluzi, who is pulling the shots in the UDF, he is already home and dry. The K1.7 billion case is still dangling in front of his nose and he will do everything possible to ensure it never sees the light of day under the DPP. In short, there is so more for Muluzi to benefit by mortgaging the UDF to DPP than to remain in the opposition. It’s a win-win arrangement for the two parties.

To complete the equation, by supporting DAPP, and eventually going into an electoral alliance with it, DPP stands to gain the Muslim vote where UDF is strong. That is why I said at the beginning that MCP be ware. Chakwera et al should try and visualise the bigger picture. Think not that DAPP or the People’s Assembly, is a headless millipede. It’s a snake lurking in the grass. Chilumpha is a good tactician. MCP will write him off at its own peril.

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36 thoughts on “On the Fast Lane of Malawi: Don’t write off Chilumpha’s party”

  1. Steve Hair says:

    2013 CECAFA Cup – Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

  2. mapapaya says:

    Koma abale, or kampeni ya mmanyuziyo

  3. kwake nkuluma says:

    Steve, What A Blunt Fellow You Have Become. U Used 2 Be Bright B4 Joining The Orange Party, Which Has Turned U Into A Dunderhead. All This Analysis Is Wrong And U Know It. Please Dont Lose Ur Interpretive Abilities Coz Of A Few Scones. Ignore This Advice At Ur Own Peril.

  4. Dpp isn’t innocent either. You have already forgotten 20 murdered people by dpp in July 2011???

  5. Makondetsa says:

    Mr Steve, Are you sure DPP stands for People’s Democratic PArty? You seem to have absorbed too much of PEople’s Party huh? Kikkkkkkk Or you were intoxicated?

  6. Chigwa Chimkhalo says:

    Zopanda pake DPP singachite zopusazo mmalo molimbikitsa chipani chake. Muzinamiza ana omweo koma muno m’Malawi anthu amadziwa kuti MCP ndiyakupha, Imapha kaamba kolephera kugwira Olo Youth Week. Mwasowa cholemba auzeni amayi aja akupatseni zoti mubwebwete muja amachitira mayi waku Salima Uja.

  7. moto bhuuuuuuu!!! says:

    ngat kukumakhala kusow chochita bola uzikalela zizukulu,akazako akunamiza kuti uzawina? Uganize kawili kodi mesa unaliuza ndiye ukuona ngati ungawine ife sitimakufuna kwako kunatha basi uwasatile amayako amaloko aja,mbuziii muooneni

  8. Charles says:

    Kunali NCD- Dr Ntaba; MPP- Uladi Mussa; Nthanda- Dr Malewezi more chewas than Dr Chilumpha. analephela kuisokoneza MCP. ndiye a Cassim angatani.

  9. Tino M. says:

    By his own admission, the author is a very good friend of Dr Chilumpha. (Talk of bias!) … But then he is not even sure whether Cassim understands ChiYao. Really? On the whole, I am finding it really hard to associate this cheap article with the name of Steve Nhlane.

  10. gob banda says:

    Mr Nhlane so we should care about Chilumpha because he happens to be friend and he can mix some Malawi lingua?Can that be a passport for somebody to get voted?

  11. Mapwevupwevu says:

    If somewhere in the story could read ‘Malawi to be embraced with new company by the name padd.I would be overwhelmed with joy.

  12. Mfiti yodya anthu says:

    Good story bwana steve.koma abiti cashgate anakupusitsani.

  13. Bakha Nkhomano says:

    Kumeneko kunali kulira kwa Anamfedwa a PP. MCP has nothing to fear. MCP remains a party of death and darkness. No Malawian will waste their vote with Kongelesi. Akufunanso ng’ona ndani? Ndiye bola Chilumphatu kapena Nthanda Party ya Malewezi!

  14. Malawian says:

    Ndikuuuzeni the motive behind this move koma chonde osati mwamva kwa ine.
    1. To strengthen mcp
    2. To finish PP. This party is recruiting PP members those that used to be active and in positions koma panopa akusowa pogwira coz dpp ikuwakana
    3. To give alternative hope to UDF followers so that many of them follow brother leader. Bwana Chilumpha will eventually donate (offcourse at a small handling fee) all those that he is recruiting to MCP but never to dpp

  15. Zondiwe says:

    Dr Chilumpha is not a people person. He is as elusive as the now extinct dodo.
    His treason case is also mysterious. That he is a lawyer is not a secret. But he is very secretive. Very few people really know who Cassim Chilumpha is, and like Dr Banda, this is not good for politics in Malawi.
    It is high time Chilumpha learned to be open and available to his own followers.
    His other problem is the nomadic political tactics that he has specialised in.
    Past history links him to the K187million Ministry of Education scandal involving him as Minister and others including a lady MP from Nkhota-Kota. These are albatrosses around Chilumpha’s political neck, and they are not good. It is better for others to lead and Chilumpha to follow. His political era is gone.

  16. nyamende says:

    chilumphanso ndiye ndani…..dpp and udf motooooo

  17. kaka says:

    akotakota amenewa sadzatheka

  18. mtumbuka1 says:

    We will try you as a better devil (at all if there’s one)but in my humble opinion i would suggest he team up with any heavyweight to topple the useless dpp in 2019. Otherwise good luck kaka.

  19. uyuni says:

    Amutuma ndi abiti. How ever ndiufulu wako ukatipeza tidyanawe.

  20. Fwitondo says:

    Wa misala anaona nkhondo….

  21. will says:

    Was this article edited before putting it for public? D.A.P.P is not a political party and the party on topic is not D.A.P.P. Please don,t waste your whole good job due to laziness.

  22. Wa Kapininga says:

    Go go go go Chilumpha.To me u have scored 99% & reaaly hav my vote,come 2019!!!!

  23. really? says:

    If only u would proof read your article and call DPP what they are in full, correctly and not call Chilumpha’s party DAPP. Come on men. You have just killed an otherwise good story.

  24. The party cannot only be suspected of being sponsored but also being masterminded.

  25. Trevor Manyi says:


  26. Nyerenda says:

    Wadya Za Abiti Lero Ukudyanso Za Chilumpha.

  27. phwiyonaire says:

    Well written Steve. A rare quality to find on nyasatimes.

  28. Peter Mathanyula says:

    If chulumpha was a good tactician he would not lose the parliamentary seat to a woman. Do not intimidate MCP just because Chilumpha has formed Padd. Chilumpha is a non entity in Malawi politics.

  29. The real ujeni says:

    I think Nhlane, you’re now the one who is clueless, I’ve read this article half way, I lost interest, just fumbling about. Next time be precise and to the point. Let me tell you this, if Chilumpha is your buddy good for you, but he has failed the country since 1994, he was part of UDF during the lost decade, birth of corruption started with him as Finance Minister. Chilumpha is a selfish man. He is in politics not to serve but to be served. He will be crushed in 2019 by MCP.

  30. inkata be says:

    Greed all over padd.
    Dpp would do better by distancing itsElf from paddm
    Any closer the move to it the further we central region voters move away from it.
    We know the man better than anybody else. Some of you just hear about him, others just read about him, but he was born, raised,and educated amongst us. This gives us more insights of and about him than anybody else.
    I shall not repeat this warning, just wait and see as the events unfold. At the end of a movie credits start to roll, watch out for the main charecter.

  31. George says:

    Good analysis. Chilumpha has just reinvented his relevance

  32. kanyimbi says:

    Maganizo a wolemba nkhani amenewa. Koma ine ndiye ndinafufuta kale.

  33. Mhesha says:

    Good hypotheses indeed Steve. The problem with MCP is the clear lack vision or creativity on the majority of its leadership. The leaders still bask in the hangover of the defunct four corner stones planted by dictator Kamuzu amongst the party’s supporters in the centre. This thinking brought rigidity which is a big enemy to creativity and innovation. To be honest if it were not for the coming of Pastor Chakwera to the MCP presidency, which brought about new hope for the party’s supporters, then surely MCP would be completely burtied after the previous elections. Otherwise, Chakwera has also been tried and tested and the support he used to amass last year is slowly going down. In fact there is also a clear disjoint between Chakwera and old guards in the party. Chakwera is closer to Jesse, Jumbe and some new members who haven’t won the people’s trust. MCP needs to be careful indeed.

  34. Mtumbuka says:

    So, again what does DPP stand for? Kkkkkkk. Simunaledzere koma?

  35. Mafikizolo says:

    At first I could not believe if the author himself believes there is any sense in what he has written . Then I came across a sentence saying that the author is Chilumpha’s close friend and everything made sense . Only a very close friend can attempt to do what this author is trying to do . But I’m afraid to say that it is simply not working. Chilumpha and his Pad are not marketable commodities. Period.

  36. Lord Denning Chatsika says:

    Truly speaking nothing will come out of PADD kaka a chilumpha angojoina UDF or PP siziyenda apa akamufunse kasambara kuti CODE inayenda bwanji kapena gwanda and his small party kapena kamuzu chirambo and his struggling petra ndizovuta izi

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