Malawi: Nankhumwa Proving He Is the Leading Man in DPP

8 November 2018

There is no doubt that Kondwani Nankhumwa, the youthful southern region Vice President for the governing Democratic Progressive Party (DPP), is emerging as one significant political talent and possible contender for influence within the governing party.

Following his maiden 'mammoth' political mass rally on August 27, 2018 at Bangwe 'Desert' ground in the city of Blantyre, after being elected VP south, Nankhumwa was looking to follow up that with another mammoth political rally in the populous Ndirande Township in the city on Sunday, November 4, 2018.

Nankhumwa, accompanied by some top DPP gurus, including free-talking southern region governor, Charles Mchacha, Information Minister, Nicholas Dausi, Home Affairs Minister Cecelia Chazama, DPP Blantyre MPs Rashid Gaffar, Themba Mkandawire, Aaron Sangala and Deputy Speaker of Parliament and DPP Nsanje north, Esther Mcheka, stormed Nyambadwe School ground to a grand and rousing reception from hundreds of DPP supporters who had filled the venue to full capacity.

Amidst the waving of DPP flags, ululation, dance and songs in praise of DPP leader and State President Professor Arthur Peter Mutharika and the party, Nankhumwa waved his own flag, acknowledging the cheers of welcome and greetings of ecstatic supporters.

"Looking at the way Nankhumwa is pulling huge crowds wherever he addresses public political meetings, his opportunity to make a mark on the country's political landscape is considerable," remarked Rhudo Chimbalawala, one of New Republican Party (NRP) national executive committee members who announced at the rally they had disbanded NRP and joining DPP.

Chimbalawala claimed that Nankhumwa is becoming a significant force who is ably assisting President Mutharika in seeking to make DPP a credible political force that would win the 2019 tripartite elections with a landslide.

MP for Blantyre City Central (Ndirande), Mkandawire could not hide his excitement at the massive display of DPP political prowess at Nyambadwe Scholl ground on Sunday.

Mkandawire told enthusiastic party supporters that, "without any fear of contradiction", he attributed the large turnout to Nankhumwa's style of leadership where he is fostering unity and discipline among rank and file members of the party.

"Since you were elected into your new position, the party, hitherto fragmented, is now purposefully united; we are heading towards the elections next year with renewed vigour and vibrancy," the parliamentarian enthused.

In his speech, Nankhumwa delivered to the people of Ndirande "a message of hope" from President Arthur Peter Mutharika that his DPP administration shall continue to make concerted and consistent efforts, in liaison with various stakeholders, to improve people's livelihood there.

"President (Peter) Mutharika is well aware that poverty erodes people's dignity. It is because of this that he has delegated me to inform you that his personal commitment and that of his DPP government to ending poverty and other forms of human suffering here is simply unwavering," he said.

Apart from the various government interventions that Nankhumwa outlined, aimed to ease people's suffering in Ndirande, what struck the right chord most with the gathering was his issue-based speech that was void of the traditional politics of insults against opponents.

Nankhumwa also publicly condemned political violence and warned against gagging and harassment of journalists, saying Malawi is a democracy where free media and freedom expression must thrive.

Kelvin Masambo, a social and political commentator recently commended Nankhumwa for "crafting a new image for the DPP and by creating a means by which the people can identify themselves with the party".

"Just as the political fray is littered with violence, with a chunk of the blame thrown at DPP, Nankhumwa has consistently come out in the open to condemn political violence in the strongest of terms. He has unequivocally stated that political violence does not have and must not have any room in the DPP, and that anyone promoting violence in the name of the ruling party must be condemned and arrested because that is not what DPP stands for," said Masambo.

He observed that Nankhumwa, who is also Minister of Local Government and Rural Development, Leader of the House in Parliament and MP for Mulanje central constituency, represents the new political future for the ruling party, which is what the political context in Malawi is demanding.

Many social media commentators have praised Nankhumwa's 'issue-based' politics. Lewis Kulisewa, Director of Consumer Welfare and Education at Fair Trading Commission (FTC), commented on Facebook that the DPP VP for south is a "smart gentleman".

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