Malawi News Agency’s Chikondi Chimala sat down with the DPP’s Secretary General, Wakuda Kamanga, to discuss the past, the present and the future of the party.
Below we have captured excerpts of the chat.
How has the DPP faired four months out of the government since the loss of its founding president?
We are still looking for possibilities of how the nation settles coming from a state of shock – the loss of a head of state. We cannot pretend it’s an easy thing to come out from.
Even government [President Joyce Banda’s] took over in a unique and difficulty way. The government did not plan to take over government. Am sure they had questions like ‘where do we start from? What do we do?
The good thing is they took over when certain critical things were already on the ground.
I am told forex and some limited numbers of drugs are available in hospitals. But the question one should be asking is why these things were missing during the Bingu [wa Mutharika] reign.
The root of all these is the DPP government’s refusal to allow gay marriage in the country which led to Civil Society Organizations (CSO’s) and opposition parties to make noise on the world stage to cut aid to Malawi.
Unfortunately, the international community responded by cutting aid to Malawi leading to forex shortage that had a ripple effect on all the myriad problems that the country was facing.
How is the DPP coping with so many defections and loss of its members?
It is normal to us; in fact we expected it because you will always find people who want to associate with government – am hesitant to call the People’s Party (PP) the ruling party. Malawi’s politics is all wrong.
People go to government with the thought of maybe akandipaseko mpando (getting a post) contrary to politics based on principles.
How would you rate the performance of the new government in just four months having in mind that all forex, fuel, drug and related problems have all but disappeared?
The problems that Malawi was facing were all artificial. Why do I say this? Look, how it is possible that all the problems we were facing just disappeared.
It is the same people – the CSO’s and then opposition parties that simply went back to their international masters to say that you can now unlock your aid taps as the anti-gay government has gone out of power.
So in reality, nothing spectacular has happened in the country, of course there are changes; we cannot be blind to them, but it is all because the masters have listened to their children.
On the other hand, the rule of law has completely gone down in the country. The President when taking her oath of office swore to adhere to uphold the Constitution and protect the rule of law but look at what is happening now?
The government is still struggling to implement Section 65, yet it promised it would not stand in its way.
Innocent people are losing their jobs for simply having worked with the former head of state despite being professionals and Malawians like anybody else. That must change. These people have families and children. It is better to ask them ‘Power has changed, are you willing to work with my administration?’ It should be up to them now to say yes or no unlike what is happening now.
Has the DPP had any interaction with the President and/or government at any level?
Oh, yes! We have had interaction at level of President to president. We sent a delegation to personally meet the President [Joyce Banda] to give her DPP’s assurance of support in execution of her duties as president of the country.
The DPP has also sent delegations to state functions, a thing that opposition parties were not doing…we will make sure we are present whenever we can at all state functions.
There has been talk from some sectors of society that DPP cadets are responsible for crimes
The DPP has never armed its cadets. People only connect us because of what happened on 19 July 2012 [DPP cadets paraded with panga’s in Blantyre] which was a unique situation. We are looking at a situation that was more in a spirit of self-defense…in case they were attacked.
However, the police are free to investigate and make arrests.
Was Bingu a dictator, a demigod to DPP whose every word was law?
You must understand that Bingu came into leadership at a lowest point for Malawi politically, socially – from an administration that had a laissez affaire attitude to issues and it needed a strong personality to correct this.
If he didn’t rule this country with a strong hand, nothing would have moved. We wouldn’t have had the kind of success that this country enjoyed under his rule.
Bingu is a person who was greatly misunderstood. In future, Malawians will appreciate what this great hero did for his country.
Bingu wa Mutharika, Peter Mutharika for President, and Callista Mutharika for Member of Parliament in Zomba in 2014? Is this not too much of Mutharika’s?
Politics is hereditary. There is nothing wrong in that. There have been the Kennedy’s, Bush’s Clinton in America – why not in Malawi?
Of course, I have not heard about the former First Lady, but there is nothing wrong in having members of the same family serve their nation in whatever capacity whenever they want so long they are capable.
What differences can you point to if any between Bingu wa Mutharika and his brother, the current DPP president, Professor Peter Mutharika.
They were brothers but very different people ranging from the way they speak, listen, and follow up on issues.
Bingu was a strict disciplinarian. He was tough. He was very intelligent. He gave you a short time to present your case when you met him ‘ngati zili zawedewede’ (if it was trivial) he would not tolerate you one more minute.
He was also on the other hand calm. He could handle all kinds of pressure and still be calm about it without blowing over
He was an all-rounder. He knew all things whether political, economical, or social, he was at the top of it. He was always well prepared. You could not cheat him on anything.
Peter is a very calm person. He is very patient. He will listen to you even if you are not making sense.
He doesn’t take things seriously – that’s why he always makes up time for everyone. He is a humble person.
Peter is moderate in the way he looks at things. He is comfortable.
What lessons has the DPP learnt?
Well, we have learnt so many lessons but one of the biggest ones is that, we have learnt that you can be leading a nation with nobody following you.
We also have learnt that it is not good to take people for granted and also critically that you can have a president in government in the morning, and out of government the next day.
I can assure you that the death of our beloved President has taught us many lessons and made the DPP to look back.
People should expect a brand new DPP. Obviously there are things we did not do well. It is sad we are in an enforced opposition but we will do well as we continue to do a lot of soul searching.
What next for Wakuda Kamanga?
I want to serve my people as a Member of Parliament (MP) in Kasungu in 2014. Of course I already started helping a lot, but I must serve my people as an MP. That’s what I will do in 2014 – serve my people.