Malawi: MCP Chief Whip Says Chakwera Is Presidential Candidate - Chilima Given 'Take It or Leave It' Runningmate of 'Tonse Alliance'

MCP leader Lazarous Chakwera (in black) and UTM leader Saulos Chilima (in red) were also taking part in protests against last May election results (file photo).
30 April 2020

Malawi Congress Party (MCP) chief whip in parliament Sam Kawale has revealed that the party president Lazarus Chakwera will be presidential candidate of the 'Tonse' alliance of MCP and UTM with other parties while UTM Party president Saulos Chilima has been given the runningmate for the fresh presidential elections.

Kawale, who is also MCP legislator for Dowa North East Constituency, in a Facebook post after registering for the 2020 fresh presidential elections hinted that Chakwera will be the torchbearer, giving credit to a Nyasa Times earlier story that Chilima had been offered a "take it or leave it" deal.

"Ready to vote for Dr. Lazarus McCarthy Chakwera, the orchBearer of the grand alliance. Kwachaa," wrote Kawale.

The UTM Party leader, who is the country's vice-president, is expected to take a stand before presentation of the nomination papers to Malawi Electoral Commisison (MEC) next week.

Nyasa Times understands that the alliance deal also gives UTM to control 50 percent Cabinet and other public appointments.

As vice-president, Chilima will be tasked to run day-to-day government activities with more powers to be enshrined in the Constitution through an amendment than just being delegated.

The deal also says MCP will get 30 percent Cabinet positions and other coalition partners will get 20 percent.

Chilima and Chakwera--the duo that secured the landmark judgement by the five-judge panel of the High Court of Malawi sitting as the Constitutional Court that nullified the May 21 2019 presidential election on February 3 2020--entered into an alliance last month and it was expected that the torchbearer of the alliance will either be Chakwera or UTM leader Chilima.

The alliance which includes other parties such as People's Party and Alliance for Democracy is being christened as Tonse Alliance.

On Wednesday, Chakwera held a news conference in Lilongwe where a banner with the name Tonse Alliance was displayed.

In the run-up to the annulled presidential election, Chakwera partnered former president Joyce Banda and her People's Party (PP) as well as the country's former vice-president Khumbo Kachali and his Freedom Party. The partnership between MCP and the two is still intact.

MCP has said it will take the presidency because of its numerical strength in Parliament (55 legislators against UTM's measly four) to claim that it is bigger than UTM and a Head of State should not have a hang parliament.

UTM spokesman Joseph Chidanti Malunga said "information" will be released when they finish their talks.

Both MCP and UTM Party developed their manifestos which they touted as geared towards bailing Malawians out of abject poverty, drive away deep-rooted corruption and create job opportunities for the youths, among other issues.

The UTM manifesto clearly indicates how it will deal with corrupt leadership, saying that the party shall empower the National Construction Industry Council (NCIC) in the enforcement of the Construction Industry Act and the code of ethics.

The manifesto further hints that the party supports civil society initiatives such as those under the Construction Sector Transparency Initiative (CoST) in working with State enforcement agencies such as the Anti-Corruption Bureau (ACB), the Auditor General and the Office of the Director of Public Procurement (ODPP) to ensure accountability and transparency in awarding contracts.

UTM also promises that the sitting president shall be stripped of immunity so that he or she should be prosecuted whenever found to be involved in corrupt practices while still serving as the State president.

On agriculture, UTM promises a universal fertiliser subsidy with a 50 kilogramme bag pegged at K4 500. The party also promises to introduce mega farms to ensure mass production of crops such as maize, cotton and rice as well as employment.

Further, Chilima passionately pledged to create one million jobs within the first 12 months in office.

In its manifesto which party officials described as a "diagnosis of the problems Malawians are facing and a prescription to the economic and human development ailments Malawians are going through", MCP focuses on challenges facing the agricultural sector.

Specifically on agriculture, MCP promises farmers a universal subsidy programme which according to officials will see all Malawians regardless of their status having access to cheaper prices of farm inputs.

Both MCP and UTM, through their manifestos, fault the design and implementation of the targeted Farm Input Subsidy Programme (Fisp) which for the past 15 years has been providing subsidised inputs to ultra-poor Malawians.

The two parties speak a similar language, particularly on agriculture and anti-corruption fight drive.

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