The dust has just settled after parties presented their nomination papers. The interesting part of the process was the unveiling of presidential runningmates.
Runningmates are integral parts to the presidential campaign. They can add colour and panache to the presidential candidate or ruin the campaign. This is why in this article I want to separate runningmates from ruining-mates.
I will concentrate on the top five parties DPP, MCP, PP. UDF and UTM in alphabetical order. No offence to the others like Ras Chikomeni Chirwa and Smart Swila. They did not seem serious and it would only be fair to treat them thus. Nothing more nothing less.
My focus will be on three elements. Whether the runningmate adds value to the pair or not, whether the candidate has the right experience and education or not. And finally whether the candidate can assume the role of a president in the event the actual president got incapacitated.
DPP: Mr Everton Chimulirenji
His name was kept a secrete until a few minutes to the nomination presentation ceremony. He was actually picked at Ginnery Corner to join President Peter Mutharika in his open roof vehicle. Many seemed shocked because he not from the DPP innercircle. The media has presented a narrative that his appointment has brought disquiet in the DPP because some big figures like Kondwani Nankhumwa, Bright Msaka and Chimunthu Banda were sidelined. But that won’t change the decision so somehow they have to live with it.
However, the fact that there is discontent in some quarters within DPP means it will be toll order for Peter Muntharika to sell the runningmate.
Because he is less known, the media has subjected him to alot of scrutiny. They want to know his education background which so far looks very questionable. To think that Mutharika’s DPP which popularised the idea of higher education for a presidential candidate would go for someone with questionable education beats logic.
It’s clear that Mutharika’s choice was inspired by need for a docile runningmate compared to Vice President Saulos Chilima who challenged Mutharika on mismanagement. He comes across as a pupet candidate without ambition, without charisma which is very dangerous for this country.
Because in the event that the president is incapacitated it does not seem like he can manage the role of a president. His education is low. His public personna and self esteem look too low as well.
On this basis it is fair to say he adds less value to the campaign apart from the fact that he is from central region in Ntcheu. Of course, the DPP thinks his choice dispels the myth that DPP is nepotistic and Lhomweish. But it doesn’t. Because one appointment cannot balance up the many Lhomwe’s that occupy high positions in government. If anything, this appointment affirms nepotism because through Chimulirenji the president is caught unsuccessifuly trying to hide it.
His only asset for runningmate is his loyalty to DPP. And if you believe in speculation it is being rumoured that Chimulirenji got backing from two most powerful people in Peter Mutharika world; wife Getrude Mutharika and aide Norman Chisale because they are related in one way or another.
Despite these disadvantages, Chimulirenji is an outsider who has no connection to the corrupt political figures. This means he is a presidential running mate candidate who would not be manipulated or blackmailed by corrupt elements. He has a clean record.
Runningmate or ruining-mate? It’s up to you.
MCP: Mr Mohammed Sidik Mia
Many believe Mia bought his way to become MCP vice president and Lazarus Chakwera’s runningmate. It is no secrete that he brought a lot of resources to the MCP campaign. But that’s not a crime. The crime would be if he were doing that with the aim to capture government. That after winning elections he would use his power to compensate himself on government contracts. That would be criminal.
But his appointment was done well before the presentation of the nomination papers. The advantage with that is that it brings stability and assurance in supporters. Voters are already farmiliar with him. It serves their campaign well. And he brings to MCP voters from the lowershire, assuming they love him that side.
The fact that he has served in ministerial positions before now means he has the right experience to step up and be the first citizen in the event the president is incapacitated.
However, the downside with that is that he has been nomadic politician. He has served in UDF, DPP and PP. It is thus fair to say Mia has nothing tangible to offer. If he had it in him, he could have contributed it in the previous regimes but he didn’t. He didn’t stop corruption or at least speak against it. He was probably part of it or benefiting too. With him at the helm Malawi will not go foward but be back to what we have now.
On the basis of this it is fair to say Mia is not in the MCP runningmate role to help the poor of this country. For him it is just a game it seems. The presidency is something he can buy with his money. That’s dangerous.
Runningmate or ruiningmate? It’s up to you.
PP: Dr Jerry Jana
Jana has good education and a track record in high profile management positions . He has held big positions at MCCCI and Admarc. This gives him great experience to run government business in the event the president got incapacitated. But his track record is blighted by corruption because he left Admarc after a corruption scandal.
And to team up with Joyce Banda is another problem. Joyce Banda has proved deceitful in the manner she changed from supporting Chilima in a coalition to standing on her own. It is believed she left because UTM did not guarantee her son would be made runningmate. This shows she is not in politics to help Malawians but to help herself and close family. This means Jana is just a pawn in her scheme. So for Jana to accept to be runningmate to such a character speaks volumes about his character. He has no morals nor decorum.
Rinningmate or ruining-mate. Once again, I leave that to you folks.
UDF: Mr Frank Tumpale Mwenefumbo
He is also not new to our politics. He is another character who has served in various adminstrations not because he is competent but because is in cohorts with corrupt elements.
He has terrorised Aford. He is a political mercenary and power hungry. Many believe he was paid by DPP to start parallel structures in Aford. In fact, at the time of being unveiled, he was wearing an Aford badge.
It beggars belief what Atupele Muluzi sees in him that we all don’t see. The only plausible explanation is that perhaps Atupele is targeting northern region votes through Mwenefumbo. He is the only runningmate from the north among the big five parties.
But we know that Mwenefumbo is not popular in the north although he comes from there.
Atupele’s decision to associate with Mwenefumbo reveals problematic decision making on UDF leader. Atupele has lost touch with reality. Or there is a grand scheme that we all dont see at play here.
Runningmate or ruining-mate? I leave that to you too.
UTM: Dr Michael Usi
The problem with Usi is that some people may not take him seriously because of his involvement with drama.
In fact, there are some people who don’t even know his real name as Michael Usi. They only know him by his stage name as Manganya.
But we we have artists like Bon Kalindo and Lucius Banda who are able to double as artists on stage and be MPs in Parliament. So it’s incumbent upon UTM and Chilima to ensure Malawians seperate Usi from Manganya.
However, it is my considered view that Chilima’s choice, Michael Usi, adds alot of value to the UTM campaign and makes the UTM pairing worth the transformation that the party stands for.
I will not dwell on what we already know that Usi is an elequent communicator. A man of the people. We all know this from his work in Theatre for Development through the Tikuferanji TV show. The show’s unparalleled success is testament to Usi’s winning mentality.
Usi has connection with masses in rural areas. He is connaisant of the challenges and crippling distresses people face at the grassroots. The television programme runs interventions in rural areas in the areas of hunger, HIV and Aids, education and human rights. You need that experience in a leader.
His education too is impecable. Being someone from the DPP stronghold in Lhomwe belt, Usi will be a thorn in the fresh of the ruling DPP. He may not win all votes in the Lhomwe belt but he will be a nuissance to them and take a pound of fresh from Mutharika.
His appointment also means breaking away from the corrupt “business as usual” altitude. He is new which means he brings a fresh bloom to clean the house.
Chilima and Usi represent a paradigm shift which our country needs to end corruption and for our democracy to move forward.
Usi is an outsider from the current political coterie that has ruined and looted government resources.
He is untainted by poisonous political connections. Usi owes no one any favours. Iye ngwakudya zake. With him in-charge we won’t have situations where construction contracts are awarded to incompetent companies because they are owed favours.
This is what has ruined many projects across the country. Substandard bridges that get every eroded every season when it rains, roads that develop potholes soon after, schools that collapse over pupils. These are works that are draining tax payers money.
Running mate or ruining mate? You judge.
TPM: Zione Akuziona Matumba
The only female running mate. Zione is pairing former vice president Dr Cassim Chilumpha. I will not breach their privacy by discussing their partnernship in detail here.
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