The number of political parties in Malawi, pegged at 56, is said to be more than necessary. A new party altogether, Leadership with Compassion (LCP), has just been launched in Lilongwe. LCP founder and president, SALLY KUMWENDA, a PhD student at Wits University in South Africa, affirmed that her party was here to say and stands to contest the 2019 polls and ‘not just to add to the numbers’. Our reporter FATSANI GUNYA quizzed her on the issue. Excerpts:
How does it feel to lead a political party in Malawi?
The feeling is just normal Like it’s something I know that it belongs to me as designed by God. I look at myself not as having achieved something but just following God’s command. I feel that it’s got nothing to do with an ambition.
Just who is Sally Kumwenda?
On July 10, this year, I clocked 37. I am the last born in a family of four girls. My late mother was a primary school teacher from Chitipa and my dad from Mzimba was an accountant. I went to Lunyangwa Girls and Mzuzu CCAP primary schools and Phwezi, Marymount and Viphya secondary schools. I have a BA in journalism from the Polytechnic; a postgraduate diploma in media management and an honours degree in journalism and media studies, both from Rhodes University, in South Africa. I also have a master’s degree in media studies from Wits University in South Africa where I am also currently pursuing my doctorate degree [PhD). Basically, I am a devoted Christian, extremely passionate about God. I love justice. I feel comfortable to sideline with the oppressed, especially the poor and people with disability. My ambition in life is to fight for the rights of people with disability and to help the needy especially those that are capable of achieving high in education but lack fees. I like leading a simple life.
Why did you form a political party?
I formed the party in February this year. I started thinking of becoming the president of Malawi at a very young age. I became very disappointed when the then government did not take to heart the people’s needs, especially teachers. My mom was a teacher, and relied exclusively on her salary. During the Kamuzu reign we never suffered in terms of not having enough to eat, my mom could manage to feed us plus paying for my school fees without a problem. But when democracy came to Malawi, I saw my mom struggling to maintain us, let alone pay school fees for us. I knew something up there had gone wrong. For instance, I could hear about civil servants striking and singing about the president failing to pay them. I never told my mom but my mind was very much being bothered, wondering why people did not want Kamuzu yet during his reign we never experienced such mishappenings like hunger, unpaid salary etc.The nation needs to go back to the basics; return to fear God and then the rest will follow. My leadership, therefore, will be God-centred. And the fact that the party is registered, and now launched, I know it’s just a matter of time before Malawi is redeemed from the pangs of jealousy, nepotism and other social ills.
Explain the name of your party?
I decided to name the party Leadership with Compassion because of the lack of compassion in our leaders in a democratic Malawi. Compassion has to do with love. If you love, you have a strong feeling of pity, sympathy and understanding for someone who is suffering. You are able to show kindness, care and willingness to help others. You possess sympathetic consciousness of others in distress together with the desire to help/alleviate. A leader with compassion can never in his reign let people who voted for him into power suffer as we do in Malawi. With compassion, never can a leader let people struggle to buy food, pay for school fees, making people work without being paid. Allow a few people to enrich themselves by stealing government money meant to benefit everyone, steal maize meant to be for the people and sell it out for personal benefits leaving hospitals without proper medication, letting business people pay exorbitant duty more than how much they spent in buying the things meant for business. A leader with compassion will always put himself into other people’s shoes. This is what defines LCP. I am a naturally compassionate person and we want to lead Malawi with compassion in order for us to avoid injuring our fellow Malawian in any way.
Who’s funding you?
Right now we cannot say that we have a specific funder to support us financially. Various women organisations have pledged to help us and that’s what we are banking on now. But we believe that God will do something about it and we shall see LCP performing wonders in all aspects of establishing ourselves in the name of God. We are not losing hope at all. However, I would like to ask Malawians who are also tired of what is happening to us and are willing to do something about it. We as LCP we would have loved if our campaign came directly from resources being given to us by all abled Malawians in the form of making contributions just as it happens either in funerals or church activities. We feel that sourcing funds in this way may be as clean as possible, easy to promote transparency and accountability. We want all Malawians to feel that LCP belongs to them because what we want to achieve is for the benefit of every Malawians.
What difference do you think your party is going to make?
Right now, our aim is to establish offices nationwide, and start popularizing the party across the country especially in remote areas. As a peaceful party, we shall be different in the way we handle our popularity. LCP does not believe in talking bad about other parties or physically fighting other parties to gain fame. We see no benefit in misbehaving ourselves to show people that we exist and we need to be voted into power or we are better than you. We exclusively give God the right to lead us the right way than believing in achieving things by ourselves. Those who believe in castigating others as a way of being better than others, let them be doing so but not us because we have never seen violence or hatred achieving anything better elsewhere.
Your party now takes the total to 56 registered in the country. However, only four contest in presidential elections. Is yours one of those ‘briefcase’ political parties?
We do not know why people manage to register a party only to end up not participating in elections but ours won’t be one of such. We are here to serve the country and therefore ready to contest in each and every aspect of it. We believe that God will take us through all the necessary steps to achieve our goal.
If voted into power today, what immediate plan of action can you take to bring some positive change on the country’s socio-economic stage?
I don’t think the consequence of having perpetual blackouts is being well understood by the Malawi Government. Just a minute of blackout is capable of destroying quite a lot. These blackouts are a total nightmare to Malawians. Talk about how many households who lose their electrical equipment due to such blackouts with no compensation, students losing their work and people losing lives in hospitals. There is a lot of damage from these blackouts and I find it very unfortunate that it is like we are silently being told that embrace blackouts as a new norm to a suffering Malawi.