It is a Chakwera-Mia candidacy in Malawi 2019 polls: Writing clear on the wall

Malawi Congress Party (MCP) president Dr Lazarus Chakwera—who is also leader of opposition in Parliament—is considered a self-centred political maverick by some quarters. A cleric throughout his adult life,  joined frontline politics and  was elected president of the MCP in 2013, succeeding longtime MCP leader, John Tembo, now in retirement.

The Kwacha ticket: Mia and Chakwera

As it were in 2014 elections: MCP’s Chakwera with his running mater Richard Msowoya (L)

Chakwera’s vice is Richard Msowoya who was also elected VP of the party at the national convention in 2013. They contested in the 2014 presidential elections as presidential and vice-presidential candidate, respectively, and lost to incumbent President Professor Arthur Peter Mutharika.

Malawians go to elections again next year, 2019. It is becoming increasingly clear now that  Chakwera and Msowoya will not be partners again next year. Chakwera has his eyes set on Lower Shire politician and business tycoon, Sidik Muhammed Mia, to become his party vice president and ultimately his running mate in next year’s presidential elections.

Chakwera has stepped up his desire to partner Mia at the expense of the elected MCP VP and Speaker of Parliament, Msowoya.  Chakwera and Mia have recently made frequent public appearances together in a sure show of solidarity with each other.

They have shared the podium in the north, centre and southern region, includIng addressing a joint political rally at Lunzu in Blantyre, attended a Church service in Limbe and an MCP fundraising dinner dance in the city of Blantyre. In all this, there has been no show for Msowoya, which means Chakwera has made up his mind to end his political ‘love affair’ with his elected vice.

MCP will hold its national convention in a matter of weeks to elect office-bearers. So, Mia may not be an automatic VP for the party because he faces challenge from others, including Msowoya at the convention. Whether or not Mia becomes MCP VP, the writing is already clearly on the wall; it is a Chakwera-Mia candidacy in 2019.

Political risks

Without delving much into MCP’s internal affairs, it is still worth noting that  Chakwera’s decision to completely sideline Msowoya is an enormous risky course of action, politically. As president of the party, he ought to be a unifying figure than be seen to favour certain individuals ahead of a crucial national convention and ultimately, tripartite elections in 2019.

Against his own party’s cornerstones of unity, loyalty, discipline and obedience, Chakwera has arbitrary ‘handpicked’ Mia for his running-mate in the presidential elections. Conventional wisdom may suggest that while Mia is  Chakwera’s personal preference, the Reverend should have allowed a consultative, democratic, free and fair process to take place. Openly alienating Msowoya and other perceived Msowoya followers will rip the party apart.

MCP is now obviously seized with some enormous leadership challenge. From his utterances that come few and far between, Msowoya seems he does not consider himself a lame-duck. He will not exit his space easily but will certainly put up a strong fight against his alienation. Should he lose his party position, he may attempt to throw a spanner in the Chakwera and Mia works ahead of the presidential elections.

Msowoya is well-versed with MCP politics. He is experienced too. He has served as a member of Parliament (MP) for many years. He also has been a Cabinet minister. Msowoya, therefore, has his own following; a political constituency in his own right. The likely scenario is that with Msowoya sidelined, MCP will go to the national elections next year a divided party.

Indeed, the arrival on the scene of Mia has brought about some fair amount of confidence among Chakwera faithful, hoping to garner the southern region votes. But other quarters within the party think that Mia’s presence is recipe for disaster for the party because he is considered by many as a rank outsider and only ‘buying’ his way into the MCP leadership ranks to achieve his own personal ambitions.

If Mia succeeds and becomes  Chakwera’s running-mate, it will be a repeat of the 2009 when MCP presidential candidate, John Tembo, ‘handpicked’ Brown Mpinganjira of the defunct National Democratic Alliance (NDA) as his running-mate, sidelining Msowoya, who was widely tipped to partner Tembo.

Tembo’s political thinking that time was that choosing a running-mate from the densely populated southern region would win them many votes and ultimately deal a fatal blow to Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) presidential candidate, the late Professor Bingu wa Mutharika candidate who also came from the south and all from Lhomwe belt. But Tembo  and Mpinganjira lost the elections to Mutharika who won with a landslide. DPP also won a strong parliamentary majority.

Chakwera and his MCP cohorts are caught up in the 2009 ‘Tembo-Mpinganjira web’. They reckon that roping in Mia on the basis that he hails from the southern region would win them the much-needed southern region votes. It may be a fatal political miscalculation if the Tembo-Mpinganjira equation is anything to by.

Suffice to note that Mpinganjira is arguably and comparatively better politician than Mia. The latter, therefore, may not bring about the much sought after difference in 2019. Chakwera and his cohorts may be using a faulty political calculator on Mia and the southern region vote.

It depends on how Chakwera plays his cards and numbers.

Malawians’ hunger for change does not necessarily mean that they will pick anybody professing to be that change agent.

Chakwera, if he wants to ride on the change mantra and ‘new politics’, must earn his place by demonstrating that he embodies that change.

The political momentum maybe on MCP’s side right now but one wrong move—that usually comes with presumptuousness, misjudgement of the electorate, scandal and careless statements, can easily turn momentum into nightmare. Only time will tell.

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Santana, let me try to answer some of ur questions: 1. MCP lost due to rigging – like it or not, DPP under Peter rigged. U may refuse tbis fa t but God knows it pretty well 2. MCP lost in 2014 cos Msowoya failed to amass enough votes for Chakwera from the north, thus he failed to match the likes of Harry Mkandawire and Khumbo Kachale in political stamina 3. MCP lost cos JZU AND Gwanda Chakuamba divided the MCP vote due to their greed and differences To me Msowoya is not the best partner to pair with Chakwera… Read more »
@Watematema You seem too immature with political games. If Msowoya abandones MCP and stand as an Independent MP and at the same time campaign for another presidential candidate other than that of MCP, will that not be a political loss to MCP in Msowoya’s area? The problem with MCP is that they are too blind to see these daily defections from the party. Instead of maintaining the 2014 numbers and struggle to add more before 2019 elections the party is blindly opening the door not for some to enter but for more to exit. Even Mia’s help from the Lower… Read more »
I will be asking the same question till Chakwera and Maunits answer me: What was making MCP to lose all the five elections in the past? After giving us the reasons you should as well give us what solutions are there to make you win the 2019 elections. Otherwise you are just good at singing the same song in every election. If you say ”don’t talk about the past”, is 2014 the past? The MCP does not know why it has been losing the five elections yet it is confident to win the coming one. You can convince your stupy… Read more »
Watematema Mutu
The analysis of the writer shows how unexperienced is he politically. The landscape is not what he is portraying. In politics it is not as rigid as it is being put. What matters is politics is not how big is the political clout one presented last year but what one is today relative to other forces. Msowoya is no longer steamy politically as he used to be three years ago. His current status as speaker seems to allign him closer to Government- a situation which makes his masters suspicious and betrayally unpopular. This force of status quo pulls down his… Read more »

Heheheheh! Mwaonona Nkhanga mawanga mukutaya
Nkhwali. Let us wait and see if the formula will work. Anyone who desert the altar of God can not be trusted by him. Chakwera’s grace and anointing was for the altar to feed the sheep, to feed the lamb and tell them corruption is evil, not to put any offering from corruption money in the offering or tithes. But to change this grace and anointing to lead the nation, no it won’t work. Whether you like it or not , it will pain , but the truth set you free. Keeping on waiting.

peter george

The more you talk about Chakwera and Mia the more you are telling us to vote for them ,tizavoratu bravo magearbox enieni sizinazi

mapeto junior

Things are nw in right truck,bravo chakwera n mia

1. The Chakwera/Msowoya combination has been tested before and failed in the last elections in 2014. The Chakwera/Mia combination has not been tested at all. Trump won in the US because people wanted a fresh breath of air. 2. Choice of the running mate is a prerogative of the presidential candidate. The fact that one is the vice president of the party does not automatically guarantee that they will be running mate. 3. The comparison between Mia and Mpinganjira is, in my opinion, comparing apples to lemons. The two politicians are miles apart in terms of what they have achieved… Read more »

The Chakwera-Msowoya pair was tested and failed. Msowoya failed to bring the numbers.
What DPP wants is a weak team and the Chakwera- Mia pair is a nightmare

By the way, APM won with 400,000+ votes.
The Chakwera/Mia/Mkandawire combination will bring the much needed votes for an MCP victory against the thieves and riggers in 2019

Donald Kilintoni


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