Thursday, December 11, 2014

Umodzi Party Presidential Candidate, Prof. Peter Chisi, Talks Politics

The Malawi Electoral Commission barred Umodzi Party presidential candidate, Prof. Peter Chisi, from contesting in the May 20 presidential election.  However, the High Court in Blantyre reversed the decision, paving the way for him to tussle it out with 11 other presidential aspirants. RICHARD CHIROMBO caught up with him immediately after the ruling. Excerpts:

What thought first impressed your mind when you heard that you could now stand as presidential candidate?
I felt that, for the first time, we have created a mix. Justice Mike Tembo’s ruling on Mathews Ngwale (one of the aspirants who contested Mec’s decision), by proxy, frees us as well, offering hope to people who work for the University of Malawi that they can practice what they teach. Before I made a position (on standing), I ensured that I cleared the ground by informing the university about my decision. You see, Malawi needs people who can sacrifice their time, and this is what has happened. So, I have no complaints to make. I feel so happy for the people of Malawi who have given me the chance to be heard.

So, when are you launching your campaign?
You see, campaign is the ability to tell people what you have. In that respect, I have already started telling people the policies of Umodzi Party. I don’t want to be burdened with debts, unhappiness, confusion. What I am doing now (talking to journalists) is launching. At the moment, we don’t have the money. What we have are committed people.   Launching a campaign would require a lot of money. If I had K11 million in my pocket, I would not use it to launch the campaign; I would use it to establish a factory. I am not one of the people who believe that a political party can develop only in the government. Look at the United Democratic Front; Atupele is able to campaign simply because his father was once in the government. The People’s Party is being funded by the government. As for Peter (Mutharika), he is in his position because his brother was once president. The same goes for the Malawi Congress Party; it was once in the government. For Umodzi Party, our assets are the committed people.

Are you not being over-ambitious, considering that some political analysts have ruled out your political party’s chances of winning the elections?
You may think we are a small party, but we are not a small party, in the sense of ideas. So, we think that if Malawians are ready for the kind of thinking we provide, they will give us a chance. If they are not (ready for our ideas) because they are used to hand-outs, it’s okay. We think that we are capable of doing everything- all it requires is discipline. I am an abstract thinker; I think outside the box. I also have the passion for understanding spirituality, too, and I understand that God has no favourites. That is why he sends rains to everyone. God has created trees and animals, and these benefit all of us.  

How sure are you that you will emerge victorious?
It’s (like a) rotary. You go there to win. I can’t influence the people, but I am sure that I have been given a chance. Being president is an issue of laying foundations. What you do has consequences for a ong time. We had a president called Kamuzu (Banda). He did not have a manifesto. His only mission was to break the stupid Federation of Nyasaland and Rhodesia. He embarked on a number of projects, including relocating the Capital City from Zomba to Lilongwe. What he meant by that decision was that, ‘Let’s find land that can be expanded’. He realised that Zomba was a dead-end. He established Capital City Development to look into developmental issues. Then came Bakili (Muluzi). He only knew hatred and lying to people. We also saw regional voting (patterns) and Kamuzu’s message that, ‘There is no Yao, Tumbuka, Nyakyusya’ was lost. People now vote along regional lines. Politicians now work for personal gains, corruption is on the rise, crookedness has become worrisome. Given a chance, we will share our vision.

Well, it seems like the High Court’s decision has pampered your political ambitions…
No, no, no. It’s not like I am pampered up. My political ambition started a long time ago. It’s about Malawians’ understanding, and their willingness to give me a chance. We want them to give us a chance to practice modified feudalism. Our situation now is no different from that of 14th Century Europe because people there were living the way we are doing in Malawi now. We have realised that, at the moment, we don’t empower chiefs, and we only have chiefs who get honoraria. The problem is that anyone who controls resources becomes rich. We want to change this by making sure that people do not come to the (central) government to complain that they want development initiatives. We will empower chiefs, District Commissioners and these will ensure that thee is development at local level. They will know exactly where development should take place. We will also establish a National Development Bank. We no longer have to worry about bringing people from elsewhere. So, it’s not like I feel pampered up after the ruling; I have had the ambition to change things for a long time now.

In the course of waiting for the court’s decision, your competitors hit the campaign trail. How will you catch up with them, and make up for lost time?
This was not of my own making. We will just take opportunity of the time that is left, and let the people decide.

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