Politics and Religion: Malawi presidential running mates and Peter’s choice of Chilima

It is a known secret that all the running mates for all party front-runners have been announced and filed their papers. The delay to announce the running mates by all political parties shows the dilemma of presidential candidates in doing so. This may be as a result of trying not to disintegrate the party by a wrong choice or wishing to learn and calculate from others’ choices. The young Muluzi was the most brave one who didn’t wait on other candidates to announce the running mate though late too. Our madam president was the last; I believe she was in a serious dilemma than others. The dilemma of keeping the present state vice president, Khumbo Kachali or chose another one for convenience.

While it is the fact that the most anticipated announcements of running mates is done, the game is not over but clear that the battle line has been drawn. Does a running mate add any chances to winning elections? I am just asking, the answer may vary from one individual to another but to me the basis of a running mate choice should go beyond winning elections. My understanding is that, a running mate is a potential vice president who is the president in waiting. A foul play in presidential running mate choice is likely to cost the country in case of a party’s victory and the president happens to resigns, impeached or incapacitated. It is infelicitous that the delay in picking running mates was based on a dilemma of choosing a running mate who can bring votes and not administrative capability.


Bingu’s choice of running mate was also not based on administrative capability of Joyce Banda but votes. With his death, we ended up with the president who has not been a preferred one for most Malawians. I wish this could be a lesson to our presidential hopefuls. If we analyse the current running mates, I wonder if Gwengwe is capable of running the government in case of an unforeseen circumstances. To add hot soup to this, I would say that these running mates have been chosen basing on adding votes and not caring about what will happen after May 20. Some are likely to fail working with their vice president just as Bingu did, in case of election victory since the choice was based on selfish gain.

On the same note, the history has taught us that a running mate does not influence the voting pertain that much in Malawi. In 1999 and 2004, UDF did not get more votes from the central region despite picking a running mate from there. In 1999, Central region voted for a party MCP despite being led by the southerner, Gwanda Chakuamba. When Gwanda left MCP for URP in 2004, he lost overwhelming central region support he had in 1999. This means that, for central region, the party matters most, not where the leader comes from, so Gwengwe, Chilima and Chapola should forget about adding more central region votes to their parties.

Yes, in 2009, Bingu shook the foundation of MCP in the central region by his subsidised fertiliser to farmers. In addition, people were fatigued of John Tembo. Now that MCP has regained grounds with the rise of Chakwera, it will be the dream of a barren woman for UDF, DPP and PP to think that choosing a running mate from central region would be significant to their parties. My observation is that central and southern regions vote regionalistically except the northern region may be because there is no strong party there.

Yes, we say that Tumbukas are selfish, but if truth be told, central and southern regions were regionalistic in the previous elections. In 2004, the north voted for Chakuwamba, a southerner overwhelmingly. The northerners did the same with Bingu in 2009. It is unfortunate that, the parties which have benefited from the north before have not considered the region with a running mate except MCP because they think there are no numbers. People allege that the Chewas and Tumbukas are enemies, now how do you explain the scenario in which a Chewa has picked a Tumbuka for a running mate? Are they really enemies? I am not sure. Don’t you see MCP sailing through this election, since is the only party that has entrusted the northerners with a running mate? Well, let’s wait and see; I may be wrong.

Does Chilima have a political future with DPP?

Of all the running mates, I have reservations with Peter’s choice which many people have praised. My observations are as follows;

By choosing an outsider leaving people who have endured with the party in trying moments means that, we had no one to trust in DPP. Mutharika is telling us that the likes of Hertherwick Ntaba, Jean Kalirani, Patricia Kaliati, Goodal Gondwe and Dausi are not worthy it. Mutharika is telling us that DPP NEC needs reshuffle to get rid of all old guards because they are not trustworthy. Now, why should we give this party votes to get back into power with these people? These are the people who are fighting court cases together with Peter but he happens to discredit them, interesting.

By picking an outsider based on age, Peter is telling us that DPP youths are not worthy leadership but may be barbarism.

Others are saying that, Chilima is intelligent and successful. Does it mean that apart from Peter, no one was intelligent and successful in DPP until Chilima came in? If that’s not the case, will I be wrong if I say that Peter has picked Chilima for selfish gain?

Not long ago, Bingu, his brother chose Joyce Banda for selfish gain. He wanted to cheat people that he is gender sensitive and he used her for campaign and he had a landslide victory. Soon after, Joyce Banda became an intruder. I see Peter using the same equation here. He has chosen Chilima because he wants to use his (Chilima’s) name he has made in the country through Air-tel for campaign. Chilima is a young rich; he may have picked him to add to the DPP pocket for a hot campaign and later fail to work with him. Just ask yourself, UDF’s Atupele, MCP’s Chakwera and PP’s Joyce Banda have picked from within their parties, why has Peter picked a running mate on his way to COMESA whole, an outsider?

Peter wants someone who would appeal for central region votes, unfortunately Chilima is a weak choice on that basis because (1), he is not politically famous to an ordinary citizen and (2), MCP has regained grounds in central region. In addition, Ntcheu is more of the southern region than central region. On the basis of region, Peter has fumbled. Don’t be cheated, the talk about bringing new blood is only popular to the literates who are the minority in Malawi. The majority who are illiterate don’t even talk about that. Basing on that, Peter is not going to get more votes from the central region as compared to choosing Jean Kalirani or Chimunthu Banda who are politically appealing. You may say, “We have tried a woman and has failed us”, I will say that most men have failed us too and Kalirani is not Joyce Banda.

I heard Chilima boasting that, they will conduct the campaign which we have never witnessed because they don’t want to resign from their well-paying jobs only to be rendered jobless. He also challenged that, he has never made a wrong decision in his life. Bravo for that enthusiasm but I am afraid; this one may be your first wrong decision. Mr. Chilima, politics has finished many people than you can imagine. You may even be rendered jobless after May 20, because even with a modern campaign, it is not a guarantee that DPP will win. We have four probabilities here. If DPP loses, then, MCP, PP or UDF will take the day, so be prepared for anything. Don’t be overambitious because other parties are not sleeping also. Mr. Chilima has changed companies without people noticing, but it is hard for a fallen politician to tar marc in search of a job. Politics is like the highest point one can get in society and for an “honourable member” to shrink on the ground looking for a job becomes somehow embarrassing and even difficult for employers to offer. Politics is better off for people who have made enough money that even if it does not favour them; they go ahead with life by running their own businesses, not looking for a job. I hope you have made enough money from Air-tel.

Another pathetic thing with Chilima’s situation is that, he was picked on the way to COMESA after all party primary elections were over. Peter has not been kind here. If DPP fails presidency, Chilima is likely to be inconsequential in the party for the next five years. Did Chilima see that? If Chilima contested for a parliamentary seat and win, he would remain relevant in the party even after DPP fails presidency. Picking Chilima after primary elections is a sign that Peter only wants to use him for election victory; thereafter many decisions may not favour Chilima because he is not from within. Be ready for most stressful moments in politics Mr. Chilima. All the same, I wish you all the best.

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