First Deputy Speaker of Parliament Esther Mcheka Chilenje Tuesday officially joined Democratic Progressive Party (DPP), saying she feels her constituency would be in safer hands under the armpits of the ruling party
A two-time First Deputy Speaker and only lady lawmaker in Nsanje, Mcheka- Chilenje said in an interview at her Nsanje North Constituency base in Group Village Head Namaya, Tradictional Authority Mlolo that her decision was made after thorough consultations with her constituents.
“After thorough we have noted the good prospects of better development under the ruling party, as we are confident, that come 2019, DPP will win the elections and continue being the ruling party,” Mcheka-Chilenje said
“I have also taken this decision considering that despite being independent, the State President has been supportive in my development endeavours,” she said.
Mcheka Chilenje’s political journey started in 2004, when she was groomed to be the constituency’s parliamentarian by veteran Shire Valley politician, the late Gwanda Chakuamba. She won as member of parliament (MP) during the 2004 under the Republican Party (RP).
However, after divorced itself from the DPP-led administration, Mcheka- Chilenje completed the term as independent MP since RP was dissolved.
Her election saw her being voted First Deputy Speaker of Parliament, seeing her presiding over tough sessions such as the Section 65 debate and others. She also acted as Speaker for a short time after the death of the then Speaker, Rodwell Munyenyembe.
But in 2009 elections, she lost her parliamentary seat but was later appointed as Deputy Permanent Representative of Malawi to the United Nations, based in New York.
However, she resigned to re-contest her seat which she won in the 2014 parliamentary elections, eventually also being voted back as First Deputy Speaker in Parliament,
“Now, after serving two terms as First Deputy Speaker, being an independent parliamentarian, I have made a decision to join a party and the party that has convinced me and my constituents is DPP,” said Mcheka-Chilenje, who now awaits being officially welcomed in the party.
DPP district Governor for Nsanje-Chiromo, Linda Makala, said Mcheka -Chilenje’s joining the party signifies the confidence prominent Malawians have in the Mutharika-led government.
But University of Malawi political analyst Ernest Thindwa said he doubted if the Mcheka Chilenje’s joining of DPP will have any impact above the constituency level.
“I wouldn’t really think she is in the league of crowd-pullers that the DPP may pride in; at constituency level, yes, the party has roped in an ‘ Extra-A Class candidate, but not of the likes of the late Gwanda Chakuamba, who would command the Lower Shire belt,” he said.
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