Malawi former vice president Khumbo Kachali on Monday said he was happy to be welcomed back in the People’s Party (PP)to help the party rejuvinate in absentia of its founder Joyce Banda – the incumbent president – who is reportedly in South Africa attending to her international duties.
But Kachali told Nyasa Times that he was only back to the party to “revive” it not as “president.”
Hundreds of supporters in Mzuzu city gave Kachali a standing ovation as he majestically walked into Victory Temple Ministries where he was welcomed as a political prodigal son.
Clad in a black suit, with an orange tie hanging like a snake around his neck, Kachali looked calm and relaxed – punctuating his face with a smile here and there.
“What did they think they would do? They were toying around with our beloved party. I’m back,” said Kachali without mentioning names.
Like a poem, Kachali repeated the line “I’m back,” saying the party was on its way back to victory with his return.
“I’m not here to grab anybody’s position, but to play an active role in reviving my party, the People’s Party to which I belong. We want to restore the party’s glory nationally, starting with the North where the majority of its MPs and councillors are based,” Kachali said.
He said it was crucial for members of the party to understand where they were coming from and where they were going.
But he said the party was now “there” because he was “back.”
Said Kachali: “I must urge you friends that we must bury the hatchets and forge ahead. All that happened in the past is now history. We must work together towards rebuilding the party.
“We should learn to forgive just like I have forgiven those that let me go through trials and tribulations in this party. I will not work towards revenge, I will rather urge you all to join me in making sure that we get back to where we were,” said Kachali.
The former vice president, who has all along been PP MP, said the party had failed to make it in last year’s tripartite elections because of lack of “unity” among the politburo and thanked party members for remaining “steadfast.”
Kachali also congratulated Members of Parliament (MPs) in the northern region for not ditching the party despite not making it in the elections.
“That tells me that we have somewhere to start from,” he said. “If the problem was leadership I’m here. I’m back. We lost it on our own; are we sure we want to lose again?”
The crowds roared “No no ooooooo!!!!”
But Kachali said he was only back to the party “as an activist” and not as “president,” reiterating that the president of the party was still Joyce Banda.
He said: “Let us give all our leaders their due respect from our president Joyce Banda, our MPs and all other leaders of the party. I’ve not come to take any person’s position and there are procedures for that. The leadership of the party remains intact.”
In an interview, PP secretary general Ibrahim Matola said the party welcomes Kachali back in its quest to rebuild.
“Kachali is a PP MP, he sits on our benches in Parliament and is working with us to rebuild the party,” said Matola.
Matola said Kachali will boost the party’s leadership in the northern region “owing to his political experience.”
He also clarified that Kachali has not become the interim party president.
“PP president remains Joyce Banda but we will be having new political heavyweight coming to join the rebuilding process of the party and Kachali is one of them.
“He will join other leaders in the north in building PP there while others in the eastern region like Ralph Jooma and myself will push the rebuilding there. We will have others in southern and then also the Uladi Mussa and company will lean in central region and parliament,” he said.
Meanwhile, Kachali has announced to unveil nerve breaking campaigns in Mzuzu’s Chibanja and Karonga’s Khwawa where the party is fielding contestants for ward councillor positions in by elections scheduled for August 25.
Kachali served as vice president during Banda’s two year term in power that came about following the sudden death of Pres Bingu wa Mutharika who died of cardiac arrest on April 5, 2012.
Prior to the 2014 elections, Banda chose youthful Sosten Gwengwe instead of her immediate deputy Kachali as running mate. Kachali later joined opposition Democratic Progressive Party (DPP), but was reservedly quiet “politically” until now.
PP trailed third in the 2014 elections, after DPP and now main opposition Malawi Congress Party (MCP).—Additional reporting by Judith Moyo, Nyasa TimesFollow and Subscribe Nyasa TV :