We are not a briefcase party’

As the 2014 tripartite elections draw closer, political parties are strategising on how to win the elections. People’s Progressive Moment (PPM) is one party that has always advocated unity of opposition parties during elections. Our reporter PAIDA MPASO talks to PPM interim president Mark Katsonga on the party’s possibility of winning elections.

 Q: How is PPM preparing for elections?

A: For a party that has been in this country for a decade, in preparation for the coming elections, we have been building the party.  I should not say we have been working underground, but we have been working with the people, religious groups, NGOs [non-governmental organisations], and other parties as well. We are convinced that Malawians are tired and are looking for something new.

Q: What message have you been taking to the people?

A: We put our manifestos and you know that, PPM is the only party which gives power to the people because at the moment they have not been empowered and there is no party which seems to offer Malawians power.

 Q: Do you really believe PPM can win elections?

A: We don’t hope, we know. Malawians want to change of government. If Malawians are to change, they need a new party and a new president. We are not saying we are taking over presidency in this year’s election, but one day we shall. PPM is a strong party and it will not die. In fact, it is the only party that believes in giving power to the people.

Q: Why was PPM in past elections aligning itself to other parties, isn’t this a sign that it is another briefcase party?

A: Not to me. You might take it as that. I always say that parties are different and that once they join government, everything changes. The ruling party [People’s Party] was just like any other party and when she [Joyce Banda] became President, suddenly PP became the strongest party and that is what happens.  

Q: So, why has PPM been aligning itself with other parties, if it is a strong party?

A: This was our strategy. From such tactics, we have learnt a lot of things and that has also helped to strengthen our party. Now we are going into the [elections] fully armed with a lot of information on our basket.

Q: What gives you confidence that PPM can win when you have failed to secure a seat in your constituency?

A: I have told you that I may have failed due to many factors and I do not want to go into details. But the short of it is that we made a lot of mistakes and we have learnt from them.

Q: When is PPM going to hold its convention?

A: That is for our secretary general [to answer], but I remember there is a plan on the ground to launch our 20-point plan before going to the convention. As a party, we are saying there is a need to first launch the 20- point plan. When that is done, we will have our convention and I believe this will be some time in July. We are doing this because we want Malawians to trust us when we take over government. It might not be now.

Q: How many members do you have?

A: I will not confine myself to numbers, because I think this term has been wrongly used, but I have figures which I can show you later on, I will have to check.

Q: Where does PPM get its funding?

A: The funding is from our members.  I know how complicated party financing is, but our funding is from our members and well-wishers.

Q:  Does PPM still sell the public the concept of mechanised agriculture?

A:  Yes, but we must accept that this will take a bit of time. But we believe that our farmers have been given a raw deal. They are not able to make profits from their labour than traders, which is very bad. What is clear is that Malawi is in a dire state and something must be done.

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