Parties keep tight lid on running mates


By Serah Makondetsa:

All major political parties except Malawi Congress Party (MCP) have kept a tight lid on who will appear on the ballot paper with the torch bearers only a month before submission of presidential and Member of Parliament (MP) nomination papers to Malawi Electoral Commission (MEC).

Democratic Progressive Party (DPP), UTM and People’s Party (PP) are yet to name presidential running mates amid speculations of potential names from the parties.


Names being thrown around as possible partners to President Peter Mutharika as DPP torchbearer include that of Minister of Local Government Kondwani Nankhumwa, Minister of Education Bright Msaka, Minister of Justice and Constitutional Affairs Samuel Tembenu and former Speaker of Parliament Henry Chimunthu Banda.

However, DPP’s publicity secretary Nicholas Dausi disputed the reports saying it is too early for the party to make such an announcement.

“It is too early to start such talk. We will tell you,” he said.


Tembenu and Nankhumwa declined to comment on the matter.

Nankhumwa said he could not make a tangible comment claiming he was not aware of his name being on the list of potential DPP presidential running mates.

“I have not heard that but you know how a running mate is chosen, that is a very difficult question. I have not heard about that. So I cannot comment on something I have not heard,” he said.

We could not get hold of Msaka and Chimunthu Banda.

In UTM, party names making rounds to partner Saulos Chilima are those of Speaker of Parliament Richard Msowoya, comedian Michael Usi, patron of the party Noel Masangwi and secretary general Patricia Kaliati.

Efforts to speak to Masangwi, Msowoya and Usi proved futile as they could not be reached on their mobile phones.

However, Kaliati said she was hearing the news for the first time.

“I did not know that is what is going on and that my name is being mentioned, I do not follow social media, so honestly I do not follow,” she said.

UTM publicity secretary Joseph Chidanti-Malunga said, as far as the party is concerned, they do not have proposed names for running mate.

“The president [Saulos Chilima] has the task to do that. We have been hearing those things, what you should know is: In politics, such things happen, people speculate, actually throughout the world people speculate.

“After all, it is only MCP which has chosen a running mate, the rest of us are still thinking. I do not think it is something we should be worried about,” he said.

PP publicity secretary Ackson Kalaile said the party will disclose the name of the running mate right before presentation of the nomination papers.

“As a party, we have not discussed anything yet on the issue of running mate. As far as I know, we will announce the name of the running mate end of February,” he said.

University of Malawi’s Chancellor College-based political analyst Boniface Dulani described the development as a typical Malawian political set-up.

Dulani said the parties are possibly scouting a potential candidate based on ethnic, region and religion influence.

“The criterion for choosing a running mate in Malawi reflects the religion, ethnic or regional base politics. Running mates are people who can be seen to be mobilising people. That is why you see when the president comes from the Southern Region, they will choose a running mate from the Central Region or Northern Region and vice versa. … it is all about identity.

“Ideally, choosing a running mate is supposed to be someone who has the same ideologies of the particular party; however, it is not the case in Malawi,” he said.

In December last year, MCP leader Lazarus Chakwera came out in the open to name Sidik Mia as the party’s running mate during the May 21 Tripartite Elections.

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