Malawi: Chilima-Usi Pair 'Projecting Modernity' and Generational Shift- - Analysts

7 February 2019

There were scenes of attraction in Blantyre on Wednesday morning when UTM Party presidential candidate Saulos Chilima - hailed in dictating and controlling both the media and national conversational agenda - unveiled development activist Michael Usi as his running mate for the May 21 tripartite elections.

Chilima became the fifth candidate to present his nomination papers to pollster Malawi Electoral Commission (MEC) with Usi as his running-mate, a choice commentators says is "thoughtful."

Throughout the past two weeks the nation failed to unlock the possible running mate to Chilima with many believing it would be Atupele Muluzi but it later transpired that Chilima, after refusing Joyce Banda demands to have her son as running mate to UTM, insisted that he would defy dynasties and tribal politics.

Thus, to the surprise of many, Chilima settled for Dr. Usi who is among those that played crucial part in consolidating UTM establishment when his group, Odya Zake Alibe Mulandu, joined in July when UTM had just been formed.

"We have chosen one of our own. We have accepted to serve [the people of this country]. When you see us, you should see a new Malawi," said Chilima.

Chilima said Usi, who will run for a parliamentary seat in Mulanje Central Constituency where the incumbent is Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) vice president for the southern region Kondwani Nankhumwa, was the "best" choice.

And in an interview after the presentation of nomination papers, Times Group editor-in-chief George Kasakula said "the pair projects modernity."

Said Kasakula: "They are both new and young. The pair will definitely achieve great impact, especially among the youth."

Maxwell Phiri, a vendor from Zingwawa, said what he saw was what he wanted.

"Abwana ife tatopa ndi mayina a Muluzi, Mutharika, Joyce Banda. Kodi dzikoli ndi la mabanja okhawo. Apa takondwa kuti tioneko a Malawi ena ndipo voti yanga ayiphula(Boss, we are tired with Muluzi, Mutharika, and Joyce Banda names. Is Malawi for those families only? Today I am happy to see new faces running for President," said Phiri.

For mayi Nankhoma, speaking with a baby on her back and had walked from Chemusa, said as long as Chilima was on the ballot it was enough to earn her vote.

"I have been praying for him. I was worried when the government was blocking registration of UTM. But today glory be to God. And the two are a pair of fresh air to Malawi politics," she said.

The murmurings of students from and several youths were that of endorsement with others declaring this was indeed the beginning of the generational shift into post-Mutharika/Muluzi/Joyce Banda dynasty era.

As the pair's vehicle majestically snaked into Comesa Hall the wave of excitement continued until the two disembarked to present the nomination papers.

Inside the mood was lively and electric and colorful up to speech time.

In his speech, Chilima said his candidature presented a generational shift to put to an end politics of dynasties and tribes.

"In endorsing this ticket you have put to shame politics of dynasty and tribe. Indeed, you have re-affirmed your commitment to the idea that our personal, family and tribal interests should be subordinated to the interests of the nation," said Chilima.

Chilima, credited with building UTM in a space of seven months and turn it into a formidable force in this election, said while the nation acknowledges the achievements of past leadership and commend them for their efforts, the country must now focus to modernity.

"We cannot fix this country by clinging on to the same failed tribal politics of the past. When you go to Phalombe, the poor men and women there are suffering just like the poor women and men of Dedza. When you go to Mangochi, the men and women there are suffering just like the men and women in Ntcheu," said Chilima adding;

"So when politicians try to divide us on tribal or regional grounds, they are only doing so because they have no ideas on how to transform this country. That is why even when you go to their so called strongholds, you shall still find innocent Malawians wallowing in abject poverty while their leaders are swimming in billions of stolen public funds".

Chilima said he stepped forward in these election because he wants to be President for everyone and that UTM's stronghold is the entire Malawi nation.

"There is no Tumbuka poverty; there is no Chewa poverty; there is no Tonga poverty; there is no Sena poverty. All tribes are suffering in this country. And that's why I tell you today that I am not running as a Chewa or Ngoni candidate. I am not running as a Christian or as a Catholic," he said, posed, and then continued;

"Let others claim those epithets if they want to. I, Saulos Klaus Chilima, I am running as a Malawian and my stronghold runs from Chitipa to Nsanje, from Mchinji to Mangochi and all parts in between. Malawi is our stronghold. And our structures are in the hearts and minds of well-meaning Malawians crying for change in the land of their forefathers. And I shall be a president for all Malawians".

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