Sidik Mia breaks silence
More than one year after he quit politics, former Cabinet minister, Sidik Mia, has come out of the shadows detailing how his being not picked by former president Joyce Banda as running mate in the May 2014 elections contributed to his departure from the political stage.
And he said Banda has actually expressed regret for her decision to leave him out as running mate.
Mia, considered one of the country’s political stalwart in his time, made the revelation in an exclusive interview with Times Exclusive, a weekly programme which airs on Times Television every Saturday at 8pm hosted by Brian Banda.
Mia, who joined Banda’s Peoples Party (PP) immediately after the death of president Bingu wa Mutharika in April 2012, said he had thought he would make a right combination with Banda in the elections.
“When we came to the PP, the president was from the Eastern Region, a lady. And I am from the Southern Region. So the combination was there, the chemistry was there. And then you are being told you could be a good candidate from circles within the PP. They say “we think you could make a suitable running mate.”
“In the beginning I totally refused. I was approached eight times by prominent people within the PP saying I was the right person for president Banda’s running mate. I initially refused because I did not want to take over a party I had just joined because I wanted to assist in serving Malawians. In fact, I refused any position in the party as I wanted to concentrate on my ministry portfolio,” he said.
Mia, who quit while serving as Minister of Transport, said the idea of him becoming running mate started sinking in when members of the party approached him to contest as vice president at the party’s convention which he duly won.
“Thereafter, there were more calls for me to partner with president Banda. I know it’s the prerogative of the presidential candidate to pick a running mate but you know when you have the qualities and people out there are with you, why would I not think that I was the right candidate as running mate?
“And I knew it that the moment I was not going to run with president, there would be problems and I mentioned this to many that if she does not pick me as running mate, then it would be difficult for me to work with the party,” he said.
According to Mia, there had been indications that Banda would pick him in that capacity.
“I was very prominent after the convention. When you are put there you start feeling like one of them….But when I saw it that it [being picked as running mate] was not coming, I saw that it was pointless to run as MP because I was not going to work with the party,” he said.
But Mia said he was frustrated at not being picked, nor does he hold any grudge against the former president.
“I felt I had done my good 10 years in politics,” he said.
He also disclosed in the interview that the former president, who opted for Sosten Gwengwe as running mate instead, has actually expressed regret for not considering him in that role.
“She has,” Mia responded to the question whether Banda has expressed regret. “I wouldn’t lie. She did. She said she thought she had been misled. She said she thought I would have been the best running mate.”
But in an email response, Banda declined to give any specific response to Mia’s claims when we put the questions to her.
“Hon Sidik Mia is a man of integrity, honesty and God fearing and he cannot say what never happened. I am very sure that he did not say these things about me,” she said.
Mia also said in the interview that he also got communication from MCP president Lazarus Chakwera to partner him in the elections but turned the call down because he felt he was not ready.
He dismissed reports that his attempts to join MCP were thwarted by discontent by a section of the members of the MCP.
Mia, considered one of the richest businessmen in the country, also trashed allegations that he has been chief financier of political parties in the country.
He also said ahead of the elections in 2019, political parties have been approaching him to make a return into politics.
“DPP leadership has approached me, although not directly. PP also. There is a lot of pressure for me because I left good footprints. I am just glad that Malawians hold me in high esteem.
“So about 2019, let’s cross the bridge when we get there. At the moment, I am resting. But if Malawians need somebody, who am I to say no? But I don’t miss life on the podium,” he said.
Mia quit PP and Malawi politics altogether in January last year.
He has served in a number of cabinet portfolios including those of transport and water and irrigation under the UDF, DPP and PP.
But asked in the interview whether his jumping ship of political parties was driven by opportunism, he said the parties themselves were calling on him to help them serve the country.
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