Zomba MP dumps DPP, joins People’s Party

Zomba Nsondole Member of Parliament (MP) Jennifer Chirunga on Saturday announced her defection from the governing Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) of President Bingu wa Mutharika and that she had joined the People’s Party (PP) of State Vice President Joyce Banda.

The 27-year-old becomes the third DPP parliamentarian to join the PP after Anita Kalinde, MP for Thyolo North and Zomba Changalume MP Grace Maseko who also announced their defection to PP a couple of months ago.

Now, the PP boasts four MPs in parliament, including Mzimba West legislator and PP vice president Khumbo Kachali, who was unceremoniously expelled from the DPP alongside the State Vice President in December, 2010.

On step: Joyce Banda's People's Party gaining ground

Defection

“I have been swayed by the visionary leadership of Her Excellency Madam Joyce Banda; in her, I can see Malawi has a future national leader with the welfare of the people at heart,” she told Nyasa Times.

She said  after a thorough consultation process with her constituents, she decided time was ripe to make and announce her decision, which she described as “bold”.

“It’s not easy to defect from the ruling party; but when people are pushed farther to the corner, they would always take such decisions like I have taken,” she said.

Chirunga announced her defection at a public rally addressed by State Vice President Banda at the Gymkhana Club grounds in the heart of the city of Zomba.

Banda welcomed the youthful parliamentarian into PP, saying the party belongs to the people and not individual leaders and as such the parliamentarian ought to embrace an inclusive approach when dealing various people.

VP agriculture talks

In her speech, Malawi’s first woman State Vice President bemoaned the many challenges that smallholder farmers were facing to access subsidized farm inputs, saying the Farm Subsidy Programme is riddled with untold corruption and fraud.

“Farmers have either to spend nights at a sales depot to access the purported cheap fertilizer and seeds or they have to pay more that the prescribed K500 for a single 50KG bag; this is pathetic,” observed the VP.

She also expressed concern at the maltreatment that small-scale business people, particularly women have to endure at the hands of town and city authorities who impound their commodities.

What is more worrying, Banda noted, was that when the small business items are impounded, they are shared among the town or city members of staff leaving the women grappling with the prospect of servicing the loans that they acquired to kick-start their small businesses.

“This is cruelty of the highest level; I feel pity for them, particularly my fellow women; God will one day answer our prayer,” said.

The State Vice President then also expressed concern at the prevailing dry spell, encouraging Malawians to seek Divine Intervention through prayer so that rains can come. The Malawi economy largely depends on rain-fed agriculture.

Malawians of all walks of life braved Zomba’s uncharacteristic scorching heat to catch a glimpse of Banda and hear her vision for the nation as she dares forming the next government in 2014 with her People’s Party.

Banda was dismissed from the DPP for allegedly “forming parallel party structures” but many political commentators believe it was President Mutharika’s ploy to clear the way for his young brother, Peter, to succeed him in 2014 when his tenure in office expires.

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