Gwanda hints at presidency run in 2014

By Thom Chiumia, Nyasa Times

Veteran politician Gwanda Chakuamba has hinted at possibly running for presidency in 2014 under the banner of his New Republican Party (NRP).

Chakuamba announced after 2009 elections that he had “finally” retired from active politics but later resurfaced to lead his NRP.

Speaking on Straight Talk programme on Capital Radio with host Brian Banda, Chakuamba said he had made no final decision but that it depended on his well-being.

“If God keeps me alive in my present strength people will see what my power is,” said Chakuamba.

Chakuamba: To run

Pressed to be candid if he is interested to run for presidency, he said: “I am not breaking the news.”

“If I am kept alive. We can say things now but God has got his calendar. So let’s wait until 2013. It can’t be a yes or no because the whole programme is not entirely in my power,” he added.

“My experience show me that some of the things are better answered with a silence,” said the veteran politician.

He also brushed aside assertions that he may rejoin President Bingu wa Mutharika’s Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) which he helped to found.

“Some of these things make me laugh really. I am not going back to DPP. No, the answer is No,” said Chakuamba.

The veteran politician said issues which the civil society are pressing President Mutharika should address are plausible and his NRP add weight to their concerns.

“We genuinely believe there are issues in this country which the president and the president alone should handle,” he said.

Chakuamba said the dialogue committee would not answer on some issues such as the construction of Mutharika’s  opulent Ndata Palace or the purchase of Malawi Housing Corporation houses by the president’s brother Prof Peter Mutharika. He said the issues can be answered by the Head of State.

He argued that with “proper leadership” Malawi would do unbelievably well.

Asked why he was not paving way for new blood in politics, he said: “In every generation there is old and new blood. The two bloods can never be separated.”

He also asked if DPP presidential candidate Prof Peter Mutharika is “new blood or old blood, how old is he?”

After losing 2004 presidential elections, Chakuamba promised to become an evangelist.

But he told the radio that he embarked on a project to construct a prayer house for his Seventh Day Adventist in his home district of Nsanje.

“I started building a church. I have less finished it,” said Chakuamba. He added that he has also been farming.

During the interview, presenter Brian Banda also asked Chakuamba to comment on allegations made by his personal assistant Grace Mhango, 32, in the Weekend Times that she worked for him for 12 years, making love to him since she was 21 years old.

Chakuamba said he could not answer anything.

“I am not answering it, ask her not me,” he said, adding that she is still working for him.

Pressed to confirm if the two have been in a love relationship, he said: “I can’t say yes or no.”

Chakuamba was a former powerful minister in the government of Malawi’s founding president Kamuzu Banda. He was an influential leader of the opposition since 1994 when Malawi held its first democratic elections in 30 years and briefly served as agriculture minister during Mutharika’s first term.

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