Malawi: Chakwera to Be One-Term Malawi President - Tonse Pact Raises More Questions

Tonse Alliance President Lazarus Chakwera addresses the gathering at Njamba Freedom Park in Blantyre.

Malawi Congress Party (MCP) president Lazarus Chakwera would only be in power for five years of his first term and leave his running mate Saulos Chilima to be the alliance's next presidential candidate in line with the rotational leadership arrangement of their partnership.

Chilima, the country's estranged Vice-President--who is also UTM Party president-- at a Tonse Alliance campaign rally at Njamba Freedom Park in Blantyre on Monday said the leadership of the alliance will be rotational.

"I will be the next presidential candidate after Dr. Lazarus Chakwera. After me, the others [pointing to the podium] will follow. Besides being Vice-President, I will also serve as minister of Finance," he said.

In his speech, Chakwera only corroborated about Chilima being Finance Minister but was mum on the rotational presidency arrangement.

Chakwera said Chilima has an impeccable track record in the corporate world and has a good understanding of the economy.

"He [Chilima] is someone this country needs to improve public service delivery. He is someone we need to head the public sector reforms to develop Malawi," said Chakwera.

Meanwhile, a top MCP executive member told Nyasa Times that they will not allow Chakwera to run for one term.

"When we ascend to power, the MCP will ensure will hold our grip to power and will strengthen the party to make sure Chakwera run again.

"This rotational presidency is a fallacy," said the official who asked not to be named.

Another MCP legislator said "it is a fantasy to think Chilima will have more powers. The Constitution will guide us and Chakwera has the majority MPs and MCP will not willy nilly change the Constitution."

And UTM upfront talking member Joshua Chisa Mbele also raised doubt on the one-term presidency pact.

He said if that is the Chakwera-Chilima agreement, he believes "it will not be honoured."

Mbele wrote on Facebook: "It will be the very reason UTM-MCP will part ways.

"I seriously doubt the sincerity of this particular clause which can't be backed, guarded and guaranteed by the Constitution. Malawians rarely operate un good faith."

The United Democratic Front (UDF) spokesman Ken Ndanga is also sceptical of the agreement.

"One can easily see that the so called Tonse alliance evolves around the interests of two people and the other 7 leaders and their supporters are of no value.

"It is clear that the whole Tonse alliance is about power and not development.

"How can a runninmate dictate the term limit of a president when such issues are dealt clearly in the constitution? Malawians need to open their eyes that this is not their alliance," Ndanga told Nyasa Times.

Chakwera and Chilima have pledged to work together in the best interest for Malawians.

Some leaders and citizens praised them and described them as statesmen for putting aside their differences and putting Malawians ' interests before their own.

Tonse Alliance comprises nine parties including support from human rights activist-turned-politician Timothy Mtambo who is leading Citizens for Transformation Movement.

Malawi is set to hold a fresh presidential election following the February 3 judgement of a five-judge panel of the High Court of Malawi sitting as the Constitutional Court that nullified the May 21 2019 presidential election over alleged irregularities. A seven-judge panel of the Malawi Supreme Court of Appeal upheld the lower court's ruling.

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