Veteran politician and Malawi Congress Party president John Tembo has defended himself against accusations that he has been silenced by the Joyce Banda administration, arguing that he is too principled to fall for the vice.

Speaking in an exclusive interview on a wide range of issues, Tembo also denied that he was eyeing the position of Malawi’s second vice-president.

The Leader of Opposition in Parliament dismissed allegations that President Banda’s appointment into lucrative positions of his close relatives Morgan Tembo (Escom), Nancy Tembo (Electoral Commission) and his son John Tembo Junior (diplomatic mission) has silenced him as an opposition politician.

“Never, I mean, people who say that don’t even know who President Joyce Banda is and who I am…they don’t know. Do you think I am in a position to go to a president of a country to say go and appoint Morgan Tembo to this or his wife that or my son to that?

“Do they think I can do that? It shows ignorance: No Malawian citizen is barred from appointment in the government if they are qualified,” said Tembo.

Speaking about the late Bingu wa Mutharika’s leadership, Tembo had few but strong words for the departed president.

“It was hopeless. He destroyed the foundation and dignity of this country,” he said.

Tembo refused to come clean on whether he will be standing as MP for Dedza South Constituency for the umpteenth time in 2014. He said the matter is up to the people of Dedza to decide if they still want him.

On the upcoming MCP convention where a few young brains such as Nkhotakota Central MP Edwin Banda are ready to take him on for the post of the MCP president, Tembo said he is not stopping anyone from contesting for any position.

“The choice of candidates is the responsibility of the convention. It’s not, therefore, my responsibility to break the rules, regulations and tradition of the MCP and start saying ‘I am the candidate,’ ‘I will stand as a candidate.’

“It’s not for me, it’s the responsibility of the people of MCP. If you find anyone saying ‘I will be,’ he is not a member of the MCP, he is not, he is somebody who is trying to exploit members of the MCP,” said Tembo.

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