Malawi Congress Party (MCP)-Sidik Mia, People’s Party (PP)-Dr Jerry Jana, United Democratic Front (UDF)-Frank Mwenefumbo and UTM Party-Michael Usi
By Nenenji Mlangeni
LILONGWE-(MaraviPost)-Critics have questioned United Democratic Front (UDF) runningmate Frank Mwenefumbo’s honesty at the Presidential Runningmate Debate hosted by Zodiak saying he did not tell the truth why few politicians are benefiting from Mining Contracts at the expense of local communities.
Mwenefumbo acknowledged that communities were not benefiting because government was not reinforcing laws that say communities living 20km within the mine should get a percentage share of the revenue generated by the mine.
However, Mwenefumbo was not being honest because he benefited from Kayekera directly when he was in Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) and was very close to one of Bingu Wa Mutharika’s daughter. He used his political connections to get himself a lion’s share of proceedings.
But through out the debate he carefully hide this part and presented himself as a victim of the practice.
Mwenefumbo is also accused of inciting government to stop advertising in the Nation some time back.
However, he demonstrated courage through out the debate and answered most of the questions with confidence and determination.
The BICC was filled to capacity with party supporters for each of the candidates and other diplomats. The supporters cheered their candidates whenever it was their turn to speak.
At the climax of the debate, the whole auditorium turned against DPP runningmate who did not show up at the debate. Fans mocked the DPP truant candidate chanting “Chimulirenji wathawa.”
Before the debate social media was already awash with banter that the DPP candidate would stay away from the debate to avoid embarrassment because of his inability to express himself.
Chimulirenji like his boss Peter Mutharika has difficulties to communicate their ideas in clear language. They seem laboured and contrived. The no show at the runnimate debate has simply cemented the low opinion voters have on Chimulirenji.
Malawi Congress Party (MCP’s) runningmate Sidik Mia also stood tall in the debate but was let down by his poor Chichewa. He seemed to struggle to explain himself in the vernacular language.
At one point, he contradicted his boss Lazarus Chakwera. When asked on what MCP would do for Albinos, he criticised government for deciding to purchase alarms for Albinos to use when under attack.
He seemed to forget that his boss Chakwera made a similar suggestion as part of providing security for Albinos. Even APAM also listed personal alarms as part of the solution for the problem. But Mia said alarms would only compromise the Albinos. This prompted the MC Joab Chakhaza to ask a follow up question on the same.
Mia came out strong in support of women’s empowerment when he pointed out the fact that there was no female candidate among the four runningmates involved in the debate was a clear indication tge country was not doing enough. He promised MCP would improve the situation.
Dr Jerry Jana representing People’s Party (PP) also acquitted himself very well. He was very strong on agricultural issues on subsidy and how farmers could benefit from farm produce. He explained best practices to be adopted to end exploitation once UDF is victorious.
However, there were times he seemed out of depth. He did not have a proper explanation on how to end corruption which cost Joyce Banda the presidency.
Michael Usi surprised many with his seriousness. Most people thought he would bring his dramatic personna Manganya to the debate.
But he did not. Instead he showed maturity and courage to tackle questions and provide a vision for UTM Party. He faulted politicians for being dishonest. He said that they were good at making promises but failed to deliver.
He accused politicians of treating people as tools/means (votes only) to an end and not as human beings. He promised UTM Party would be different and deliver on its promises because they realise that talk is cheap but walking the talk matters.
Manganya’s only irritation was that sometimes instead of providing answers to questions from the convener, he answered them by firing back questions as well like Jesus Christ did. And was constantly coming in to clarify points when it was not his turn to speak.
Among other issues the runningmates debated on land issues, corruption and state capture, youth issues, education policies and women empowerment.