Four vice presidential nominees faced off Saturday night in their first live debate ahead of the May 20 tripartite elections with Malawi Congress Party (MCP) vice president Richard Msowoya impressing most people for articulating issues and inspiring confidence that he has what it takes to be the second-in-command .
The ‘Question Time ‘ debate, moderated by Zodiak Broadcasting Service’s Joab Frank Chakhaza, was listened to by millions in Malawi and abroad who were also monitoring on the online streaming service. It was also beamed on newly launched private Times TV in Malawi.
MCP’s Msowoya, UDF’s Dr Godfrey Chapola, Saulos Chilima of DPP and Minister of Trade Sosten Gwengwe of ruling PP were the panellist in the vice presidential debate.
Msowoya, was combative from the start, clearly condemning the culture of wrongful-self-enrichment and denounced the cashgate corruption syndrome.
He also displayed knowledge on State operations and governance.
Msowoya, who was the most audible and spoke with the flair of confidence acknowledged the role of the constitution and state agents on running government.
UDF’s Chapola was “the weakest link” during the debate.
Chapola, an agriculture expert did not hit the notes well and failed to articulate issues. He was more animated.
Activist and lawyer Saudi White described Chapola in her commentary on social media that he was “the worst.”
Saudi noted that Msowoya is “naturally gifted to think on his feet” and was set to “carry the night.”
DPP’s Chilima was cool and composed. It was evident from his answers that he was more of a technocrat than a politician with his tone focusing on civil service reforms and creating a conducive environment for apolitical officers on public service to work effectively.
He said the Peter Mutharika’s led DPP zeal would be to run government like enterprises to ensure there is productivity and results oriented.
Chilima had the style, the managerial substance but lacked the political acumen. He seemed to stay composed for most of the debate.
Seodi hailed Chilima for responding “well to the gay question. It’s his best answer for the night.”
In his remarks, Chilima said the DPP will seek Malawians position on homosexuality through an opinion plebiscite and act to the wishes of the people and not according to the strings attached by cooperating partners.
“Saulos is still learning the game. It’s a maiden voyage and it feels like that. He needs to clean his oratory skills, he should also think faster on his feet. He will learn but today is not his best day,” commented Seodi.
Gwengwe on the other hand showed he had done a good home work for the debate, citing figures and statistics.
However, he sounded a bit swaggering, he touted himself as having the “relevant experience”, saying he has served as MP in MCP, DPP and rose from the ranks of deputy minister to full minister and that for one year under the Joyce Banda administration he has been “MG 3” on protocol.
Gwengwe, a chartered accountant, also said he is a technocrat who would be responsible in running the civil service and described President Banda as an “activist”.
But Gwengwe, who said he will turn 37 during the polling day May 20, was misled by emotions when he lost cool at times and started pointing fingers at other political parties, particularly MCP and praising his President.
Gwengwe was cheered by his party supporters who included First Gentleman Richard Banda SC and at times jeered supporters from the opposition.
“Gwengwe is an intelligent guy but he is being too political. He is not being himself. Therefore he has no credibility,” noted Seodi.
All the running mates argued spiritedly, taking stronger tones and making more forceful arguments on youth policies and agriculture.
The debate had a heavy focus on health policy and governance.
Zodiac’s Chakhaza maintained control of the stage, directing hard questions at all of the candidates and several times asking them to clarify vague answers and present specific plans.
The vice presidential debate was held at Bingu International Conference centre which Chilima noted in his brief closing statement that the venue was an exhibit of “the works of DPP” administration.
Follow and Subscribe Nyasa TV :