MCP old vs new blood

…seven gurus -BJ, Mumba, Speaker, Zikhale for veep

…Finance Minister Chithyola set to be SG

…old guards try to throw spanners

Brown James Mpinganjira, popularly known as BJ, once a strongman of the United Democratic Front (UDF) and founder of the defunct National Democratic Alliance (NDA), is back in frontline politics. He wants to be the First Vice President of the Malawi Congress Party (MCP), potentially running mate to President Lazarus Chakwera, who has been declared the party torch bearer for 2025.

Brown Mpinganjira (in black suit) wants to be the First Vice President of the Malawi Congress Party

However, BJ has to battle it out with six others- a mixture of new and old blood, and the good, the bad and the ugly, who are all seeking to be vice president and eventually, and if they win,  will become party leaders after Chakwera’s exit. Chakwera’s 2025 elections will be the last, whether he wins or loses.

Two positions- first vice President and Secretary General are likely to cause headaches for the president and party members as new policies are being formulated, and those that feel targeted are promising thunder and fire if they are left out.

“The party can choose to be a model of democracy and allow everyone to stand for their position of choice or try to engineer who to be available for the ballot and split. There was an attempt 2013 to bar Dr Lazarus Chakwera, who had no position in the party, but it did not work. But the Party Leader chaired and approved this session, which agreed.

The old blood is fighting the new blood; on Wednesday, a new policy of having one serve for two years in any position before standing for National Executive Committee posts was approved, which has opened a can of worms, as the committee mandate expired in 2023. The blockade is likely to fail or end up contested in courts and could send the party into prolonged legal battle derailing its preparation for elections.

The Investigator Magazine has been talking to various factions formed before the August 2025 elective convention, which is expected to produce fireworks, as most old guards, including incumbent Secretary General Eisenhower Mkaka, will find it challenging to retain seats. However, a crowded race could give Mkaka an advantage over the incumbent.

Newcomers- welcome, but not welcome

In a twist to the raging infighting and posturing for a new position, the MCP management committee headed by Mkaka crafted a new policy whose priority is to wade off new competition as the old guard battles to retain their seats.

New members, are they welcome to contest?

The policy says for any person to contest for a National Executive Committee (NEC), they need to serve in any party position for two years, meaning all those that have been joining the party, such as Uladi Mussa, Esther Mcheka Chilenje and Zeria Chakale from the opposition Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) will not be eligible to stand for any position.

Some senior members have promised to block the move at the party Indaba, saying the new policy will have to take effect after the convention as the committee which approved it was only the caretaker committee after it postponed the convention from last year.

“Only the convention can decide what MCP can do. This is a party with history and deliberately stocking fire that people should express themselves and be explained. They won’t win. The law does not apply retrospectively; more important, they have no powers,” said a staunch supporter of one of the candidates for the vice presidency.

no room for new members to contest

A member of the NEC, however, said the committee was prepared to fight for its decision and that only those with positions would qualify, dismissing references to 2013 then-Director of Elections Joseph Njobvuyalema’s circular of a similar nature, which was thrown out.

“That was a man’s decision; this has followed due process under the powers granted by the party constitution. The constitution does not prescribe the K5 million one must pay to stand for president; it is a policy. This falls in the same category. We are prepared for any outcomes,” explained one of the key NEC members.

The policy, if implemented, will weed out a few names who are set to run for the position of first Vice President, which is likely to give the advantage as a potential successor to President Lazarus Chakwera or his running mate for the 2025 Presidential elections.

Seven wants, or dream to be Vice President

The Investigator Magazine identified nine people who want to run as first vice president for the party, a record for the position. Each hopes to succeed President Chakwera when he leaves office, as the 2025 elections are his last.

The list contains new and old politicians, making the race for the post exciting and, at the same time, uncertain as to who will convince the lot as some are still sitting on the edge trying to weed out the competition before the actual race.

The Investigator Magazine can reveal the nine as;

Brown James Mpinganjira– perhaps the oldest candidate amongst them all, his operatives say he has brought many structures in the South and the Eastern region of the party and has been making moves across the country to win the seat. However, after being a member of the UDF, NDA, DPP, PP and now MCP, he is unlikely to be trusted as a future president of the party.

Engineer Vitumbiko Mumba donating motorbikes

Engineer Vitumbiko Mumba: primarily seen as connected to the party’s highest echelons, he resonates with the young and old of the party, though disliked by most party position holders in NEC. He is thought to be the main target of the two-year policy, which could derail his well-oiled campaign that has seen him donate motorcycles to 13 party District Chairmen who are influential during the conventions. The Investigator Magazine was able to trace his donations using his posts to Chikwawa, Neno, Thekerani and Mulanje in the South, Lilongwe Urban, Lilongwe East, Lilongwe Rural, Dowa East and Kasungu West in the Central Region and Nkhotakota, Salima, Dedza-Mtakataka and Ntcheu Bwanji in the MCP Lakeshore region. “He has a strong base even among parliamentarians; given a fair platform, he could surprise many,” said a staunch Mumba ally. Mumba’s strength is primarily his age and well-oiled campaign slush fund. Mumba comes from Mzimba, a large voting district, and he could use it if he is not barred from standing to make a case for a running mate position.

Speaker Catherine Gotani NyaHara: Malawi’s first female Speaker has the advantage of experience and resources but is not in touch with most structures, relying heavily on others. Most MCP MPs would not publicly support their own Chair, but she is enjoying support from the Central Region gurus, including Director of Youth Richard Chimwendo Banda; many in the party claim she saved him from being axed as both Leader of the House and Cabinet. However, her association could drag her into the district wars, mainly between Lilongwe and Dowa, which are intense in the fight for power. As a lady from the North in Mzimba like Mumba, she could be picked as a running mate. The party officials have always given her a podium to speak, one of the many firsts as most Speakers before stayed away from active political fronts. Despite being the most senior public official, she faces the challenge that she has been long in politics and has a small circle of friends within what is supposed to be her base -the North.

Ken Zikhale Ng’oma: Loved by the grassroots and hated by peers, it is challenging to analyse Zikhale, the populist Homeland Security Minister. He is the MCP Director of Strategy and has been working underground to get structures on his side. He is from Nkhatabay in the North. His most significant political capital has been to do what others can’t and say what others can’t. As to how he fairs among the party structures- he has been recruiting heavily across districts.

MCP is seen as weak, but he has avoided the base in the Central Region. Very few MPs would support his bid. But in a crowded race, every vote matters; he could surprise everyone.

Moses Kalongashawa Kunkuyu: Originally from Blantyre and Chikwawa, he tried his luck in Dedza following a family connection. He has attempted to normalise the angry and rude tones Ministers of Information are known for; he has a gentlemanly tone. He has rubbed his rivals with leaks of his endorsements in the Southern Region, where he has actively DPP defectors. His resource envelope cannot match those of the other candidates, but he is running from the Southern Region and is a campaign director, which could give him a great advantage if he was in touch with the convention delegates.

Abida Mia: Though she has yet to come out, she is among the candidates. One of the most significant political chess players, Mrs. Mia, is not in politics by chance. She developed herself consistently, and with her late husband, Sidik had the ears, both ears of the sitting president. Many think she has grown politically weaker, but that’s how she has operated. She always comes back as the last-minute candidate and surprises everyone. She was the power behind the husband’s political rise, and now, she charters her own path. Being from the South and able to win a few seats for MCP, a Muslim, and a lady, she has multiple political advantages to make a solid case to become a vice president and eventually a running maté. She is being accused of blocking newcomers such as Mcheka Chilenje and supporting her own squad- that’s politics.

Mr Dasu: An MCP official in the Southern Region, the gentleman will likely try his luck as second vice president.

Harry Mkandawire, the current vice president, is not running for the post again. He is said to be supporting the Speaker.


The coveted party CEO position gives one access to the State House and, as seen in the recent past, is so powerful to keep the party machine rolling when the Head of State is busy. However, every party SG faces trouble, and supporters don’t like them after a while.

MCP until Mkaka had a high return of Secretary Generals, a position during Kamuzu’s, Gwanda’s, and John Tembo’s reign saw most of the occupants tainted, fired or at loggerheads with the president or the party.

The UDF, DPP, and Peoples Party also had a good change in the position holders. For the August 2024 convention, the next man (no woman yet) looks like to be battled by the following:

Simplex Chithyola Banda: The Kasungu South MP has made a surprise rise in cabinet and seems to enjoy President Chakwera’s confidence, a key indicator he could be favoured as a loyalist and not a threat to the presidency. He has not declared, but parliamentarians such as Abele Kayembe are openly campaigning for him. Others claim he is part of the Dowa team, and others claim he is neutral. But he commands respect and is in touch with the voting teams. He could be a leading contender for the post.

Chris Chaima Banda: The first of advisers to get out of State House, Chaima Banda seems to have spent his sabbatical working on MCP structures to fulfil what he told some, “I will be the next Secretary-General.” Chaima Banda is an ambitious politician who once almost challenged John Tembo but recalculated his move. His name, during surveys, appears to be associated with some districts in the Central Region, and he is among the strong contenders for the position.

Albert Mbawala: The incumbent Treasurer General has no issues with anyone. He continues to command respect, and many excuse his performance as being deliberately sabotaged by others at the party. “He will win; he is a very stable hand to run the party,” a parliamentarian in his campaign team told The Investigator Magazine.

Eisenhower Mkaka: Once seen as a potential successor to President Chakwera, Mkaka, many became detached during his first two years as a cabinet minister, losing most of the party followers who trusted him to be different. He still has the support of many structures, and having too many competitors could work to his advantage and reclaim his seat for another five-year term.

Alex Major: He had become a critic of Mkaka and party politburo and became silent towards the end of last year. His name is still being mentioned, but he is still determining whether to make an impact during the elections.

Other key positions:

Treasurer General

Ezekiel Ching’oma: The head of MCP media machinery, he seems to be a favourite of many young ones as he “takes care of his own”, and an upgrade to Treasurer General could set his future politics to a new stage.

Rhino Chiphiko: The former Treasurer General wants his position back; he has been working with specific camps to get the delegates he needs to beat Ching’oma, who is so far a favourite for the position.

Director of Youth

Current Director of youth

Richard Chimwendo Banda might have become unpopular within the party. Still, he should be credited for raising the youth directorate to be part of crucial party structures that whoever succeeds him needs to maintain the tempo. So far, two names from Dedza and Lilongwe appear to be the candidates.

Ishmael Ndaila Onani vying for the DoY post

Ishmael Ndaila Onani: JZU replacement in Dedza South, very vocal and the 34-year-old touched the party structures during the funeral Tembo, asking party leaders to “look after them”, a touch that could endear him to the youth, who accuse leaders of abandoning them. His oratory skills could boost the party that is failing in many areas.

Alfred Jiya, MP for Capital Hill, has shown to be a hard worker and is supported by many people who have come across him. He, however, needs to raise his profile outside camps to be visible and known to convention delegates so that he can beat Ndaila Onani.

National Organising Secretary

Deus Texas Gumba Banda: Mchinji South West MP and Lands Minister is hailed at the regional level for his work, and he is likely to shed off competition to claim the position.

Lobin Lowe: Long-serving Lilongwe Central MP is said to have his eyesight to the position. His position still needs to be confirmed.

Director of Women

Four ladies- Khumbize Kandodo Chiponda, Esther Kathumba, incumbent Jean Sendeza and former Lilongwe Mayor Juliana Kaduya are set to battle it out. So far, Kathumba could surprise the old guards.

National Campaign Director

So far, Richard Chimwendo Banda has decided to vie for a post that keeps him in front but has yet to lead. It could be a brilliant political move. He was initially set to face Madalitso Kazombo, the Deputy Speaker who seems to have moved to settle for Director of Recruitment. Chimwendo meets parliamentarians as his biggest challenge; many won’t support their own Leader of the House.

Director of Elections

Elias Chakwera, the incumbent Director of Elections, will have to face Maxwell Thyolera, Dr Mphatso Boti and Ulemu Chilapondwa.

MCP will need a strong team, alliance will be difficult to formulate.

The MCP now that it is facing internal battles will have to emerge with a strong team capable of marshalling 50 + 1 votes as the current team has lost its popularity.

The party NEC quickly repeated its 2023 endorsement of President Chakwera as its candidate, essentially throwing out the Tonse Alliance agreement that saw him pair with UTM’s Saulos Chilima, whose future now looks set outside the MCP.

Uladi barred from contesting on any position at MCP convention

PPM President Mark Katsonga Phiri called the MCP act a “use and dump,” claiming the party cheated all Tonse Alliance partners.

The MCP will have to navigate its campaign, and it could see most of the new guys ditch the party after they are blocked, and others who lose could decide to boost other parties. It also needs regional balance to reach out to other regions.

For its mediocre first term, the party needs a powerful team to convince voters it can win an election.

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