Newly-elected Malawi Congress Party (MCP) President Reverend Lazarus Chakwera on Sunday pledged that the party will end its 20-year run in the opposition in next year’s presidential elections.
Chakwera, who spent decades delivering fierce sermons from the pulpit as a charismatic Christian evangelist, had a written speech but opted to deliver one from the heart in the vernacular.
He made the acceptance speech at Natural Resources College Hall in Lilongwe, which was the venue for the party’s convention.
Soon after opening his acceptance speech by the singing the National Anthem as a prayer, he hinted on his vision in great oratory, which struck the chord with some delegates.
Once the baton of power had been passed on to Chakwera, from the party’s outgoing president John Tembo, he galvanised the party’s supporters; narrating the party’s great past and hailed its officials, particularly Tembo, for ensuring that its structures are intact despite many years of being in opposition.
Chakwera defended the party’s past as “not all wrong”, asked for forgiveness for the wrong aspects. He offered an olive branch to those who departed the party over differences with its leadership or protesting its troubled past.
“MCP is a party of the struggle; today, it must now fight to end the challenges facing Malawians. Let’s be honest, MCP is a very strong party with proper grassroot structures throughout the country,” said Chakwera.
However, his speech dwelled much on party building and promises of good governance and he briefly tackled on the need to revamp the agriculture sector to spearhead economic development, he did not reveal much of his economic vision.
He allayed fears of political inexperience saying the definition of politics used as the yardstick was wrong.
Later, quizzed by journalists on his chances of making it in 2014, Chakwera quickly described his chances as ‘tremendous’ adding he is ready for his “throat to be cut several times” along the way.
“My vision is to rebuild this party, make sure that we follow principles and policies that will make Malawians confident that MCP is ready to govern again,” he added.
As the campaign for the party’s presidency became bitter, there were some indications that Chakwera and Tembo’s relations were slightly strained after the outgoing MCP leader rejected Chakwera’s financial support towards the convention.
But Tembo on Sunday urged the party faithful to rally behind Chakwera and promised that he too will support him to win the elections.
“My congratulations to Pastor Chakwera are sincere. I hand over power to him with a clean spirit. All the defeated candidates should support the president,” said Tembo, who revealed how sometime back Chakwera prayed for his sick wife.
Tembo, however, dismissed assertions that he had been rejected by the delegates, insisting that he had opted to voluntarily retire adding he hinted on the same on several occasions during the convention’s welcome remarks on Wednesday.
Earlier, the party’s delegates who were wrapping up the three-day convention voted Richard Msowoya and Macdonald Lombola as First Vice president and Second Vice President respectively. The once embattled Secretary General Chris Daza was also voted back into office as Tony Kandiero claimed the position of Treasurer General.
The convention has since mandated the newly-elected president, in consultation with the party’s regional committees to fill other vacant National Executive Committee positions.