“Anybody can grow up to be president,” goes an old saying, but not everybody is cut out to be president. It takes a special kind of person; someone that is tough, smart and driven to run for the job.
It takes talent and strong character to hold up under the pressures of life as a president.
Sally Kumwenda plans to join the May 2019 presidential race. She could be Malawi’s second female president of in the making.
She describes herself as a very honest compassionate person.
“I do not like to see people suffering unjustifiably. I am not a selfish person who thinks about myself first before others. There is nothing good that comes out of a selfish person.
“A selfish person will use anything to get what they want; they can even kill to have things their way. But a leader must be free of that at heart. All these problems we are facing in Malawi are a result of certain people being selfish and greedy—thinking they are the only ones who deserve better. It’s very unfortunate,” she laments.
Above all, she says she is a God-fearing person who feels for disadvantaged people—those who cannot speak for themselves, including people with disabilities.
“I would like people to appreciate every human being as important. Being disabled does not mean inability. I recently researched on how visually impaired people use their mobile phones. They can type on a cellphone, they can save people’s names and they can dial numbers, just fine.
“Clearly, they are able. No one deserves to be looked down upon. We need to understand and support each other according to the way God created each one of us,” she says.
Kumwenda feels it is her calling to become president of the country and feels the need to have the Malawi that we used to have before democracy; a Malawi where everyone is happy and proud to be Malawian.
Asked how she plans to pull that off, Kumwenda says: “I have been frustrated with how things are going wrong in my beloved country. What is worse is that Malawians are being denied the right to know the truth about the rampant corruption, including Cashgate and the maize theft.
“Malawians are paying for the consequences of such corruption innocently and prices of goods are ever exorbitant, making it hard for them to put food on their tables. Hunger has embraced Malawi, leading to crime as people are looking for ways of sustaining themselves even if it means infringement of other people’s rights, for instance, the killings of Albinos,” she says.
She agonises that no one is stepping forward to stand up and defend the country from such evil malpractices.
“I thought of coming forward to assist because I trust in myself and I trust in God. We seriously need God to help us clean up our country. For this, I even decided to study politics for my master’s degree to prepare for my calling,” she says.
Looking at the problems that Malawi is facing, the presidential aspirant thinks it is best to tackle the root of Malawi’s problems.
“To fix any problems the cause must be established. For instance, the large amounts of money stolen in government; where and how did it start? What were the loopholes? It is the same thing with the maize scandal. and the closure of universities. Only if that research has been done thoroughly, the problem would be rectified. And to achieve these results I, if I became president, would physically be involved,” she adds.
As she pursues her PhD studies at the University of South Africa, Kumwenda is also promoting the rights of the disabled and plans to replicate that project when she returns home.
Her objective is to give people with disabilities equal chances of participating in anything.
Her bid to become president comes at the back of Malawi having the first female president, Joyce Banda, and she also comes in at a time Malawians seem to think experience in politics is everything before one becomes president.
However, Kumwenda argues that everyone has their destiny and that no-one should give up their attempts by looking at the failures of others.
She envisions a comfortable Malawi for everyone and not just for the few politicians or government officials.
“We don’t want people to keep on leaving their country of origin [Malawi]because they have just given up to corrupt leadership. We have a lot of work to do. But with God by our side, we will achieve the desirable outcome. Loopholes for corruption, whether small or big, need to be closed,” she points out.
Born in 1980 at St John’s Hospital in Mzuzu, Kumwenda is the last born in a family of four girls. She lost her father three years after her birth and was raised by her mother who worked as a primary school teacher until she also died in 2003.
She went to Mzuzu CCAP and Lunyangwa Girls for her primary school and proceeded to Phwezi Girls and Marymount Catholic Girls secondary schools.
“I only get an MSCE [Malawi School certificate of Education] certificate, but after the death of my mother, I decided to re-sit my MSCE, so that I could go to the university. I did it at Viphya Secondary School in Mzuzu, and I was selected to pursue a Bachelor of Arts in Journalism and Media Studies at the Polytechnic.
“Upon graduation, I went to upgrade myself at Rhodes University in South Africa, attaining my post-graduate diploma in Media Management as well as my Honours degree in Journalism and Media Studies. I went further to attain a Masters Degree in Media Management at Wits University and I am currently pursuing my PhD with the University of South Africa,” she explains.
A leader must be a bit tough sometimes and she says she would never work with anyone who portrays characteristics of greed and selfishness if she became president.
“I will not fear and tolerate any evil demands. Those who want to work with me must be ready to achieve the same goals I desire and be ready to sacrifice their happiness for all Malawians who will vote for them. They must put Malawians first,” she insists.
Despite that most Malawians have a tainted mind that all politicians are the same, Kumwenda says she is different.
“People think politics is a dirty game. I say no. Anyone that does not trust in God is the one that brings dirty images. Some even say God and politics cannot go together, but again, I say no. My opinion is that leadership without God is the worst.
“We need God to lead. As leaders, we always have to remember that the people we lead are children of God; therefore, the wisdom must come from Him alone. It shall all be well for us if we trust in God, and not in ourselves,” she concludes. n