…Kachali, Chihana, Munthali in
..50 + 1 heat to affect major parties
Senior politicians in the Northern Region are ganging up to form a regional bloc that could change the shape of the 2025 presidential and parliamentary elections. The region remains critical in the fifty-plus one elections set up.
The group set up by Malawians in the diaspora has been inviting politicians who all agree with the need to unite and contest as a bloc. However, as with previous attempts, most of the prominent politicians continue to play hide and seek, whilst Aford rivalry between sole legislator Yeremiah Chihana and his nephew President Enock Chihana has already produced fireworks.
Last week the group invited leaders on the group to make a statement on the need for unity. Only three of the 8 political heavyweights have made their statements, while others have flatly refused or have not even acknowledged the invitation.
Former Vice President Khumbo Kachali, Yeremiah Chihana, and Former MCP spokesperson Maurice Munthali have all issued recorded statements for the group, while Rumphi East MP Kamlepo Kalua has indicated he will issue his commitment statement soon.
Former UTM publicist Frank Mwenefumbo on Thursday asked to be recused from the group as he is busy with his Chairmanship at the Northern Region Water Board. Mwenefumbo has been linked with a new party National Development Party (NDP).
Speaker Catherine Gotani Hara, Transport Minister Jacob Hara, and Defense Minister Harry Mkandawire have yet to respond to join the grouping which says is an inter-party group, while Umodzi Party President John Chisi has completely refused to join saying he is a member of Tonse Alliance.
Former Vice President Khumbo Kachali said in his recorded statement that attempts to unite the region have always failed despite starting in 1994 as a single bloc. He said in 2004 members of parliament from all parties in the region formed a working bloc that yielded positive gains.
“Post 2004 the focus was on the North, we came together and most of us championed DPP that became a majority in the region. If we benefit from that support, is a topic for another day. But I want to say we have done it before, uniting ourselves for development is doable,” he said.
Kachali who is the Freedom Party president says the biggest challenge has been the personalisation of politics and lack of support for the individuals that are rising in political ranks.
“As soon as one of us is given an opportunity to rise, it is the fellow northerners who start working to pull him or her down. We personalise the issues, it is only Chakufwa Chihana, Aleke Banda, or Khumbo Kachali who can do this. At the end of the day whether it is Kamuzu Chibambo, Enock Chihana, John Chisi, or Frank Mwenefumbo it is not them, it is the region that directly or indirectly will benefit,” he said.
He said leaders in a democratic society should be elected on merit and only one person could be a leader at a time, adding that this needs to be made clear that progress can only be made if people rally behind the elected leadership.
In his explosive statement, Reverend Maurice Munthali blasts what he terms “kapilikoni” saying those that will deny the unity of the region should be exposed and that people in the region should know who is working against the interest of developing the area.
“The group should be regulated. The inception should include consultations with everyone including Traditional and Religious leaders, party leaders domiciled in the north, youth, civil society, business leaders, and everyone. We need to carry everyone on board,” says the outspoken Munthali.
He says the group needs to have a proper vision that would stand the test of time calling for a team to be set up to define the nature of the group.
“What do we mean when we say we are forming a political bloc? Do we register a new party or work with existing parties? Then others too claim they are working on regional unity, we need to bring everyone together,” he charged.
“There is no sin for anyone joining any party in Malawi because of freedoms enshrined in our constitution. By forming this bloc we are not being tribalistic or regionalistic. No, we are exercising our rights as well. Nobody will understand our plight, agonies, aspirations in terms of development except ourselves,” he added.
The grouping is expected to hold its first general meeting in June.
The incumbent President Lazarus Chakwera who will be seeking a second term under the Malawi Congress Party (MCP), the main opposition Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) President Peter Mutharika who is widely expected to run again, and Vice President Saulos Chilima who heads the UTM are the three leading presidential contenders and will be seeking the Northern 1.5 million votes to meet the 50 plus 1 threshold to win the seat.