Mzimba North MP Goodall Gondwe, who served in various Cabinet portfolios, including finance under the late Bingu wa Mutharika administration, says he is ready to serve President Joyce Banda but in his own capacity.
Gondwe, a former International Monetary Fund (IMF) vice-president for Africa Region, widely accredited for reviving the Malawi economy during Mutharikaâ€™s first term of office (2004-2009), said this in an exclusive interview last evening after his former party, the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP), earlier told journalists in Lilongwe that he was joining Bandaâ€™s Peopleâ€™s Party (PP); hence, his decision to quit active politics last week.
Said Gondwe: â€œI have done this [serving in personal capacity] before and this wonâ€™t be anything new because when I joined the late president Mutharika, I was not a member of DPP until after 18 months.â€
During his tenure as finance minister, Gondwe presided over a near double-digit economic growth rate, dropped inflation to single digits and earned Malawi debt relief.
Briefing journalists in Lilongwe earlier on Wednesday, DPP third vice-president Dr. Jean Kalirani, flanked by publicity secretary Nicholas Dausi, treasurer general Dr. George Chaponda and director of womenâ€™s affairs Patricia Kaliati, said Gondweâ€”who until his resignation was DPPâ€™s first vice-presidentâ€”had informed the party that he was joining the PP.
â€œHonourable Gondwe first met our interim president Peter Mutharika and explained that he was under pressure to serve government. After that, he met me face-to-face and told me that he was under a lot of pressure from donors and government to serve and help repair the economy,â€ said Kalirani.
The DPP politburo argued they were not surprised that the President now wants Gondwe because the countryâ€™s economy is now in a mess.
Said Kalirani: â€œInflation is very high, fuel and food prices have gone up and the devaluation is hurting everyone and now they are poaching our skilled people to help.â€
Chaponda said government is being unfair and killing democracy by poaching DPP members, disclosing that DPP had approached PP to discuss a government of national unity (GNU) which PP rejected.
â€˜Never under pressureâ€™
Gondwe admitted that some quarters in the donor community made suggestions but was quick to point out that he was never under pressure.
â€œIt is not true that I was under pressure… No! I already planned to retire [from active politics] and everyone in the party knew that even before Mutharika died and if I served in the current government, I will not be serving as a member of PP, DPP, UDF or MCPÂ but on my own and I hope people will understand that,â€ he said.
Gondweâ€™s decision is likely to have a negative impact on the former ruling party which is still recovering from the shock of losing its founder and leader in April this year.
On the other hand, the defection of DPP secretary general Elias Wakuda Kamanga to PP last week has not shaken the party in the Central Regionâ€™s rank and file. On Wednesday, the DPP Central Region Committee assembled over 10 MPs and 23 district governors to showcase that the party is still intact despite Kamangaâ€™s defection.
â€œKamanga may be gone, but he has gone alone because as you can see, all district committee leaders are intact because they have not gone with him,â€ said DPP regional governor (Central) Frank Katundulu.
Mutharika died in April this year and since then the party has been hit by defections. He formed DPP after ditching UDF, a party that supported his candidature, to stifle a challenge from his predecessor Bakili Muluzi.