People’s Party penetrates northern Malawi

Ahead of its official launch in northern Malawi this week, the newly registered Peoples Party (PP) is slowly but surely gaining more ground in the region than expected.

Formed some few months ago by the country’s Vice President, Joyce Banda, after her unceremonious dismissal from the ruling Democratic Progressive Party (DPP), the Peoples Party has already won the hearts of many northerners.

A snap survey conducted by Nyasa Times in some parts of the region like Rumphi, Karonga, Mzimba and Mzuzu city during the ending week revealed that PP has during its few months of existence grabbed the attention of many people who are ready to work with it.

Scores of people Nyasa Timesspoke to indicated they have joined PP because of the party policies which its leader has been articulating during party meetings.

People's Party leader Joyce Banda and her deputy Khumbo Kachali

“Many people here feel PP is the party to support now. It has penetrated the region and electorates are eagerly looking forward to 2014 general elections,” said Twikale Mwangupili, a taxi operator at Karonga Boma.

“I operate a taxi between Karonga Boma and Songwe Boarder everyday and from the conversation by my passengers, if the DPP is not careful PP will form next government,” he added.

Mwangupili’s assertions are evidenced with Nyasa Times’ observation along the M1 Road especially in Rumphi district, where a traveller only sees PP’s orange flags flying aloft on people’s houses and shops. The other flag seen and there is that of People’s Development Movement (PDM).

“This is not just because of the bye-elections. PP has come to stay here. People have welcomed it wholesomely and are ready to vote it into government,” Mapopa Thawi, a businessman based at Mzokoto Trading Centre in Rumphi told Nyasa Times on Thursday.

Malenga Banda, a photographer who plies his trade outside Immigration offices in Mzuzu city, corroborated Thawi’s sentiments while observing that PP was gradually replacing the ruling DPP which has lost people’s confidence and trust because of its leadership.

“Northerners gave Mutharika [State President] and his party [DPP] all the support particularly during the 2009 polls but he has messed up big time and he must forget getting any vote from here now, people have agreed to try a woman [Joyce Banda],” he said.

Another evidence of PP penetration in the region is the support people have given to the party’s candidate for Tuesday’s Rumphi Central Constituency bye-elections, McDowell Chidumba Mkandawire.

Mkandawire is seen as the frontrunner in the September 6 bye-elections, according to Nyasa Times spot survey.

In the race, the PP torch bearer is competing with Peter Chihana of PDM, who appears to be his main challenger, Enock Chihana of Alliance for Democracy (AFORD) and DPP’s Norman Nyirenda.

When PP leader Joyce Banda and her deputy Khumbo Kachali addressed campaign rallies in Rumphi last week, thousands of people gathered at the venues to listen to Banda, who is deemed to write history in 2014 if she wins to become Africa’s second women state president.

PP was registered on July 28 after a protracted war with the authorities over its symbols and colours and it was officially launched on August 27 in Blantyre where thousands upon thousands of people were in attendance.

Rumphi Central constituency fell vacant in August last year after the death of its legislator, Professor Moses Chirambo who got fired as Minister of Health a few days before his death in South Africa.

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