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Lazarus Chakwera was MCP’s weak candidate—Manondo

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One of the suspects in the Paul Mphwiyo shooting case, Pika Manondo, Thursday revealed that Malawi Congress Party (MCP) president Lazarus Chakwera was the next weak candidate prior to the party convention in 2013.

Manondo revealed that an analysis by People’s Party (PP) strategists rated Chakwera as one of the weakest candidates when compared to his rivals who were gunning for the party’s presidency.

According to Manondo, who has now entered defence on the offence of conspiring to murder Mphwiyo, PP officials put in place a plan to manipulate the outcome of the MCP convention.

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Manondo said when it became clear that former MCP president John Tembo, who was the first on the list of MCP weak candidates, would not be the party’s candidate, they planned that they should drum up support for Chakwera, even without his knowledge.

He said in all this plan, he (Manondo) was in direct touch with Mphwiyo.

“We looked at all the MCP candidates. For example, Chris Daza, who was Secretary General of the party, was already known in the party. He could be a strong candidate. Joseph Njovuyalema had been a long serving member of the MCP, he couldn’t be weak. “The same was true with former Chief Justice Lovemore Munlo. He was from the South; if he won the election, he could be an obstacle to the party’ [PP] candidate. Another candidate, Felix Jumbe, was young and financially stable, we could, therefore, not regard him as a weak candidate,” Manondo said.

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He added: “The plan was that people should vote for Chakwera. But there was no any agreement.”

Manondo’s testimony to an extent corroborated what Oswald Lutepo said on Wednesay.

Lutepo, the last defence witness of the first suspect in the matter, Macdonald Kumwembe, told the court that money plundered from government was used by Manondo to facilitate the printing of campaign materials for Tembo.

Manondo’s testimony largely centred on his working relationship with Mphwiyo.

It had to take the intervention of Judge Michael Mtambo to remind him about the major issue in the case.

“You are busy talking about a political party. Why can’t you stick to the story [we are talking about]? It’s like you are talking about political science,” Mtambo said.

Although Manondo tried to justify that he was giving a background of issues, in few minutes he started talking about what he was doing the night Mphwiyo was shot.

“That night I was at Chez Ntemba in Area 47. Thereafter, I went to chameleon and later to Area 10. At no point, this night did I go to Area 43. The closest I went was to Area 10,” Manondo said.

Mphwiyo was shot on the night of September 13, 2013 outside his Area 43 residence.

In the case, former Justice Minister Ralph Kasambara and Manondo are answering the charge conspiring to murder Mphwiyo, while Kumwembe is answering attempted murder charge.

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