Who does Chakwera want for Veep, SG?

….Gotani, Mumba and Zikhale could be next deputy

…Chaima Banda, Chithyola and Mkaka top three for SG

…Ministers accused of planting proxies

Speaker Catherine Gotani Nyahara, newbie Vitumbiko Mumba and Homeland Security Minister Ken Zikhale Ng’oma have emerged as top three contenders likely to scoop the post of First Deputy President for the ruling Malawi Congress Party (MCP) during the forthcoming indaba in August this year.

For the position of Secretary General, the picture is murky as Chris Chaima Banda a contestant who had been fired from State House has suddenly been reinstated to his office by President Lazarus Chakwera, which is being interpreted as a signal that he might be the “favoured” one for the position following indications that the incumbent Eisenhower Mkaka is unpopular among the party rank and file.

Ministers are being accused of planting proxies that will be used to influence the party in case they lose,  as many position holders are likely to lose their posts after four years in power- many have become detached from the party structures, their critic’s  claim.

The Investigator Magazine spoke to various prospective delegates to the MCP convention and drew the following picture of what is emerging as the next executive for the ruling party.

First Deputy President narrows to three

From a crowd of eight, two senior figures in the party Gotani NyaHara and Zikhale Ng’oma seem to have taken the campaign seriously along side Vitumbiko Mumba, while the other contestants have engaged would be voters at a lowee scale. Most delegates are happy to receive freebies.

“Its our season to eat. The race is between Speaker, Mumba and Zikhale. Between the three the one we know we can trust is Zikhale, but people are scared of him. Mumba is a good candidate he could win if given space. The Speaker we can’t say much, she talks to leaders not us,” said a District Chairman in one of the Lakeshore Districts.

Gotani NyaHara is the favourate among Executive Members of the Party and has support of North North Region and parts of Central Region backed by Secretary General Mkaka and Director of Youth Minister of Local Government Richard Chimwendo Banda.

Gotani NyaHara is the favourate among Executive Members of the Party

She appears to rely heavily on party gurus that her probable votes would come from Chitipa, parts of Mzimba, parts of Lilongwe, Dowa, Ntchisi, parts of Kasungu, Mchinji, Mangochi, Dedza Golomoti and lower shire among others.

The Speaker might find some soft landing in the Lower Shire, if Water Development Minister Abia Mia turns up the area she dominates for her. Mrs. Mia has been linked to several campaigns but now looks unlikely to join the crowded position which has eight contestants.

Looking at the present political map, Zikhale Ng’oma would do well in Blantyre, Zomba, Mwanza, Mulanje, Machinga, Ntcheu, parts of Mchinji, Nkhotakota, Nkhatabay , parts of Kasungu and  Karonga  while Mumba is set to get votes from Lilongwe,Salima, Dedza, Neno, Thyolo, parts of Blantyre, Balaka, Mzimba, Rumphi and parts of Nkhatabay North.

Zikhale is the only candidate for the post that spent a weekend campaigning for the MCP candidates

Zikhale this week delivered nine cows in Karonga to be shared by party officials after winning byelections on Tuesday. He is the only candidate for the post that spent a weekend campaigning for the MCP candidates. Mumba on the other hand continues his district-to-district reach which has seen other contestants claim they have invited him to their areas. Mumba is making big promises once voted.

Brown Mpinganjira is dominant in parts of Mulanje and Kasungu, while Information Minister Moses Kunkuyu has planted himself in Phalombe, parts of Blantyre and Mwanza.

Other contestants such as Dean Lungu, Ahamed Dasu and Anderson Moyo survey show they have no bases.

For post of Second Deputy President Anussah Daddy Hussein and Charles Mwambyale are seen as proxies for  some Ministers and powerful political figures who might decide to declare their interest last minute.

“People have interest, but they are still assessing the politics before they join in political head bashing, most Ministers want to run but they are holding out for now,” said a well placed MCP official campaigning for several candidates.

Chaima Banda, Chithyola and Mkaka go neck to neck

While the fate of the Secretary General Mkaka is largely tied to that of the Speaker and her supporters, the next Chief Executive Officer for the MCP is likely going to be Mkaka, Finance Minister Simplex Chithyola and President Chakwera’s advisor Chris Chaima Banda.

Chaima Banda, according to MCP insiders, blames Mkaka for his fall which resulted in his arrest over NOCMA fuel contracts in 2021 and has spent his time outside the public office to cultivate links with the party structures.

President Lazarus Chakwera is said to have reappointed Chaima Banda as his advisor and his vehicle has been seen on State Residences convoy in the recent days. State Houses also confirmed his return.

“His return and open campaign in hotels like the recent one in the South shows he is well resourced. His close associates are upbeat that he will replace Mkaka. If there is a man one would bet to be the next Secretary General for the party is Chaima Banda,” said an MCP official.

However political obituaries for Mkaka should be put on hold as the CEO being out of cabinet has seen him have time to recultivate his connections with most District Chairmen he has worked with for a while.

Current GS – Mkaka

“Mkaka’s strength is his network of officials. Those that don’t like him some of them are not even delegates, but they just have platforms of making noise. It will be difficult to get rid of Mkaka,” said an MCP veteran in Lilongwe.

Finance Minister Simplex Chithyola Banda who has faced criticism from his first day of appointment to Treasury is now being alleged not to have originated from Kasungu but Mabilabo in Mzimba, tactic his supporters claim is being used by fellow Ministers to undermine his Central Region base.

A strong candidate against the current GS – Chithyola

“Chithyola is a strong candidate, but they must create stories around him since he is more approachable and helpful than Mkaka and Chaima Banda. They have alleged he is Zamba’s (Secretary to the President and Cabinet Colleen) plant to now saying he is from Mabilabo, yet he is an MP for Kasungu South. He will win, fellow MP’s, mostly from the region are campaigning for him,” said a Chithyola supporter.

Other two candidates Albert Mbawala and Alex Meja are yet to make impact in their campaigns though Mbawala is showing strong support in Dedza, Ntcheu, Balaka and Salima.

Director of Youth attracts second highest number of candidates

Chimwendo Banda will not be seeking to retain his Director of Youth position but his power and influence for the position which he has made it popular now the second most sought after position with seven candidates.

DOY leading contender is Dedza South MP Ishmael Ndaila Onani who is allegedly being bankrolled by a billionaire businessman linked to the party

Some are being accused as his plants to control the outcome and someone he can use as a proxy.

The DOY leading contender is Dedza South MP Ishmael Ndaila Onani who is allegedly being bankrolled by a billionaire businessman linked to the party and he faces Civil Servant and former activist Edward Chileka Banda, Lilongwe City Centre MP Alfred Jiya, Baba Malondera, Emmanuel Thembachako, Aunest Chisisito and Assan Chikuta.

“Ndaila is seen as someone they can’t control. But he speaks for many members of the party when given an opportunity. So, he stands a better chance,” said one of MCP members.

Malondera and Jiya would give Onani a run for his money, while the rest are likely to be turn up the heat as the convention draws near.

Other posts still warming up

The contest for MCP positions seem to have drawn more contestants as the time draws with Gerlad Kazembe seeking promotion to become 1st Deputy Secretary General facing Frank Bauleni and James Chatonda Kaunda. While the popular Likoma Islands MP Ashems Songwe wants to become 2nd Deputy Secretary General but he has to face Golden Galeza first

For Treasurer General the names have changed with Rhino Chiphiko, Trade Minister Sosten Gwengwe and Morgan Macpherson Chimombo indicating their interest. Deputy Health Minister Halima Daudi has to defend her deputy Treasurer General posts against Horace Chapuwa, Micheal Izek Chisala and Enala Yesaya.

Chimwendo Banda is said to be vying for the post of National Campaign Director.

For Organising Secretary Deus Gumba, Lands Minister will face Lilongwe Central MP Lobin Lowe, while Ezekiel Ching’oma who had initially been thought to have been looking for the Treasury post will now face MP Peter Dimba for his Publicity Secretary position.

For Director of Political Affairs Maxwell Thyolera is so far alone while for the Womens leadership Minister Jean Sendeza has to face Esther Kathumba, Juliana Kaduya and Health Minister Khumbize Kandodo Chiponda.

Elias Chakwera is now facing Ntchisi South MP Ulemu Chilapondwa for the post od Director of Elections, while Arthur Sungitsa, MP Ken Kandodo and former Deputy Foreign Affairs Minister and Diplomat Henry Mumba wants to Director of Economic Affairs.

The position of Director of International Affairs former Deputy Foreign Minister Abele Kayembe wil battle it out with former Deputy Agriculture Minister Agnes Nkusa Nkhoma, as Munika Jele, Feston Chiliko Zambezi and Agriculture Minister Sam Kawale are facing each other for the post of Director of Public Relations.

Professor George Jobe Kanyama Phiri, Paul Nkhoma, Kondwani Mdooko, Ronald Chanthunya, Joe Chingani and Edward Governor want to man the MCP’s Research Directorate, while Deputy Speaker Madalitso Kazembe will face Smollet Kachere, the man accused of making 16 trucks of maize disappear for the post of Director of Recruitment.

Other Deputy Directors

For 1st Deputy Legal Advisor is said to be interested Dick Chimowa while for the 1st Organizing Secretary only Chrissie Chigawa has expressed interest. So far only Jephter Mwale wants to be 1st Deputy Director of Political Affairs while three people namely Isaac Ramsy Khan,  Festus Vungela Mhango and  Chinsinsi Nsato want to be Deputy Director of Youth.

The hot seat is Deputy Director of Elections with five people namely Esau Kambewa Chisale, former Minister Ulemu Msungama, Dayan Mitumbili  and Fransico Dzuwa want the post. Egdar Chapalanjira want retain his position as 1st Deputy Director of International Affairs. Former Thyolo East MP Bapu Khamisa wants to be 1st Deputy Director of Public Relations.

Others are 1st Deputy Director of Strategic Planning Marko Ng’anjo Kachepa, 1st Deputy Director of Research Eston Kapalamula and Amos Milanzi.  1st Deputy Director of Social Services Liana Kakhobwe and Cidreck Chikoti while 2nd Deputy Legal Advisor has attracted Jefferson Luwa.

Only Dr Safren Khamula wants to be 2nd Deputy Organizing Secretary while for 2nd Deputy Publicity Secretary Dowa Councillor and former Zodiak reporter Mayamiko Kambewa will face Kondi Msungama.

2nd Deputy Director of Women’s Affairs has only  Ezereth Tembo, 2nd Deputy Director of Economic Affairs Moses Chakana, 2nd Deputy Director of International Affairs  Chalo Mvula and two people want to be 2nd Deputy Director of Public Relations William Ngulube and Dickson Chatanga.

2nd Deputy Director of Research has Dennis Nanthumba , 2nd Deputy Director of Social Services Stevie Phuma Tanyaze and Maria Kambuzi and for  2nd Deputy Director of  Recruitment only Patrick Kaumphawi has so far vied for the position.

Who does President Chakwera want and who can replace him?

As campaign heats up, the biggest question has been how President Chakwera will vote during the convention with many predicting he would want a woman for running mate while others point at the need for alliance with other parties for the party to achieve 50 plus 1 required for one to claim presidency as making the first Deputy post only for the future succession. 

The need for a female boost to unpopular government strengthens Speaker Gotani NyaHara position.

Chakwera is looking for a vibrant team to help him in 2025 General elections

Politically, Mumba is seen as young and overly ambitious- though he could be a proxy for the Chakwera’s whom it is alleged is close to, while Zikhale would serve as a front man without much of a political threat.

For Secretary General Chakwera would want someone whom he is familiar with and is not a threat which makes Chithyola Banda his likely favourate compared to ambitious Mkaka who is seen as posing to be the likely successor for the President and Chaima Banda whose boldness would cause discomfort in many. He attempted to run during John Tembo’s era as MCP President.

Others have pointed out that SPC Zamba and Chakwera’s Chief of Staff Prince Kapondamgaga should not be ruled out as potential successor to the President to lead the MCP and are likely financing proxies to set the ball rolling before they join of active  political positions.

“Those that win crucial positions are likely to be in the elections war cabinet. Those who lose is mostly good bye to the ministerial posts. Many are playing safe, but they have to pave way for others. The convention will define MCP. Mai Zamba has been assisting the party since 2012, so too Kapondamgaga, they should be counted in,” said another MCP veteran.

The Investigator Magazine predicts that the first faction to win the Ist Deputy President is likely to dominate all other posts and most incumbent are unlikely to sail through if the voting system is impartial.

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