Thursday, December 11, 2014

'PP did not lose the presidential election’

The People’s Party (PP) has become the first ruling party to lose in a presidential election after the re-introduction of multiparty politics in 1994. Our reporter RICHARD CHIROMBO caught up PP spokesperson Ken Msonda to find out how the party is faring outside the realm of power and the way forward. Excerpts:

Have you come to terms with the fact that you are now an opposition party?
Had it been that we did not win the presidential election in the May 20 tripartite elections, I would have honestly told you how we are faring as an opposition party. But we did not lose the presidential election, and we are here (in the opposition) because the process was flawed and marred by massive irregularities. I repeat, the PP did not lose the (presidential) election. So, we cannot talk of coming to terms with the idea of becoming an apposition party; but I can say without fear of contraction that we have accepted the turn of events, but we are still seething over the irregular manner in which the announcement of results was made. We are not satisfied with the outcomes of the Presidential, Parliamentary and Local Government Elections.

Why? The former president Joyce Banda wished the new President well.
Of course, of course. But you should realise that (Former) president Joyce Banda is a democrat, a God-fearing president, and an individual who puts the welfare of Malawians at heart. She accepted the results and wished the new President well because she cares for Malawians and did not want bloodshed in the country. She wants the best for the country. That is why she said what she said, and we know that she meant what she said. That is why we will always be proud that the PP gave this country a president who was caring and put the country’s interests before her own; a president who shared the little she had with the less privileged in Malawi, not because she was in power, but because giving is her way of life. What I am saying is that the (former) president knows that the electoral process was marred by irregularities and that the outcome is not a true reflection of the will of Malawians, but she put national interests first. That’s all. But, as a party, our position is that the election results were scandalous. In the end, Malawians will be the best judges.

Talking of putting national interests first. Why didn’t the former president put the interests of Malawians first by attending President Peter Mutharika’s inauguration, then?
The (former) president already showed political maturity by wishing the new President well and, for that, we need to commend her. Congratulating the new President was an indication that she is a democratic we have always known her to be. Remember, also, that she repealed anti-media laws and created a conducive environment for journalists. Otherwise, at the rate the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) regime was going before she took over the reigns, I don’t think journalists would have been free in this country. You, people, should have been living as refugees in Tanzania and neighbouring countries. You would have been beaten to pulp in your own country. We should not forget those things. So, the issue of her not attending the inauguration ceremony is like peanuts to me, when we look at the bigger picture. She saved this country from bloodshed by wishing the new President well. Let’s look at the big picture. Inauguration is like peanuts when compared to the way (former) president Dr. Banda handled herself during this crucial period. The same goes with the PP: We accepted the results because we did not want bloodshed in this country.   I tell you, people die in the aftermath of elections in other countries. Our responsibility was to make sure we prevented that scenario, and we succeeded.

Your party has 26 Members of Parliament. For a political organisation formed less than five years ago, is this not an achievement?
It is not an achievement. We are disappointed with the way we have fared. But, anyway, the process was marred by so many irregularities and the electoral results are illegitimate because some people have cooked up the figures, and imposed them on us. For the sake of national peace and development, we have said, ‘Okay, this has happened. Let’s plan for the future’. And, so, we will focus on the future. We will sit down as a party to map the way forward. We will look at how we can help bring credibility to the electoral process. We will do this while maintaining that we are not satisfied with the results of the Presidential, Parliamentary and Local Government Elections and while, at the same time, saying we will not seek legal redress.

Why, then, don’t you just withdraw your representatives from Parliamentary and Local Government proceedings? Is it not ironic that your party members will go to Parliament on the ticket ‘illegitimate’ results?
As a party, we cannot do that. We will not even go to court to contest the results of the Presidential, Parliamentary and Presidential Elections because we want to focus on national development and the future. We have accepted the way things are, while convinced that the elections were not free, fair and credible. At the same time, we are happy that over a million people voted for us; meaning, they see value in our brand.  We know that many more people voted for us, but these were the figures that were imposed on us. You may wish to remember that, when she wished the new President well, our leader Dr. Joyce Banda did not mention the fact that the PP will be contesting the results in court. We will leave things as they are.

Should Malawians expect the PP to work with the DPP in Parliament or on national affairs?
We will put Malawians first. Our president already demonstrated that when she was the Head of Government and State. But this is one of the things we will discuss after mapping the way forward, and the Secretary General will be in a better position to say whether we will work with the DPP. It is too early to say that at the moment. 

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