Tembo drops 2014 presidency hint, calls probing radio journo ‘rude’

Malawi’s leader of opposition John Zenus Ungapake (JZU) Tembo has hinted that he would seek a third run for the country’s presidency in the 2014 General Elections.

Tembo, speaking on Capital Radio’s Straight Talk programme monitored by Nyasa Times on Tuesday evening, blasted journalist Rhodes Msokho for his probing questions, calling him “rude.”

2nd Veep

Msonkho asked Tembo on reports that he has stopped being critical to government after being promised the position of second vice president. Tembo said he does not oppose personalities but ideas, saying the ideas that new President Joyce Banda is bringing and implementing are “refreshing.”

Tembo: I condemn bad

Tembo said the appointment of second vice president “is entirely the responsibility of the government, in particular the Head of State” and that he has not been approached on the matter by the appointing authority.

He, however, admitted that he met President Banda on two occasions but that the issue of second vice president was not raised.


The 78-year-old veteran Malawi politician told the radio that he is ready to serve the interest of his Malawi Congress Party (MCP) members to contest for the presidency in 2014.

He said MCP will – as their tradition – hold a convention to choose a president who will become a torch bearer in 2014.

Asked if he intends to run for presidency, he responded: “I cannot discuss that with Capital Radio.”

Persuaded to answer, Tembo said: “I am not going to tell you, on your radio an issue which is the responsibility of members of the Malawi Congress Party.”

‘Rude’ journalist

When Msonkho pressed Tembo again on the presidential candidacy “at this age?” the veteran politician said: “That’s rude because I have already told you, the people, members of Malawi Congress Party , will choose their leader at the convention.”

Asked again if he will contest at the convention, Tembo snapped: “That’s rude because you want me to say something which is done at the convention.”

The radio host asked Tembo to explain what he meant  that he is being rude.

“It’s bad manners. If you are interviewing the leader of the Malawi Congress Party and he tells you the procedure and process and you choose to put words in his mouth and bring out your words in from your throat, that’s rude,” he said.

The journalist accused Tembo of not giving “straight answers.”

Tembo said: “I will not give you straight answers  because I have told you the procedure.”

Asked when MCP will hold the national convention, Tembo responded: “When did the DPP  held their convention.  Ask them because you represent DPP.”

The journalist asked Tembo to explain why he labelled him DPP.

“It’s my assessment,” he responded.

Brian Banda

Msonkho took over hosting the popular Straight Talk interview from Brain Banda who made his name with the Capital FM flagship interview programme for his no-holds barred questions. Banda is now President Banda’s Press Officer.

Previously Tembo had a heated interview with Banda in the programme.

Banda is on record to have asked Tembo on fevered talks that he is a “dictator” and that people “craw” to speak to him, the MCP president lost his cool.

“Okay craw now so that you can address me. If you say people craw, craw now, let’s see how you craw.  People can judge me whether I am a dictator or not a dictator. I don’t think MCP could have been together today if I were a dictator,”  Tembo retorted.

When Msonkho asked Tembo whether MCP will have an electoral alliance with other political parties in 2014, he said: “You sound like Brian Banda has sent you to ask these questions.”

Tembo called the question “rubbish.”

On 2014 prospects for MCP, Tembo told the host: “Continue looking at 2014 yourself for your petty issues, I am looking at MCP and our preparations for 2014.”

I am not God

Asked is MCP – which ruled Malawi for 31 years – will bounce back in power, Tembo said “ I am not God” to  foretell and said he would not “dream in colour” like the former DPP government which claimed it will be in power for many decades.

Tembo also disclosed that he is “happy” hat his son, John Tembo Junior, has been appointed deputy Malawi High Commissioner in United Kingdom.

But he said the appointment “ has not sealed my mouth.”

“I do appreciate the fact that my son has been appointed to go back to the diplomatic service,” he said. He was initially sent to a diplomatic tour of duty in Brussels by former president Bakili Muluzi.

Support good, Man U

Asked what he would like to be remembered with, Tembo said: “They should remember me when I am dead and not start remembering me when I am alive.”

Tembo said: “My policies are constant, I support good and condemn  bad.”

On a lighter note, Tembo disclosed that he is a supporter of English Premiership side Manchester United but did not name his local team despite being a known Mighty Wanderers fan.

Tembo advised Capital FM radio journalist “to improve your question,” maintaining that  he is “rude.”

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