Malawians go to the polls on May 19 to elect a president and members of parliament. Incumbent President Bingu Wa Mutharika of the Democratic Progressive Party who is seeking re-election is in a tough contest with six other candidates, including Malawi Congress Party leader John Tembo and independent candidate James Nyondo.
In a related development, an American citizen Micah Harris, who said he was the director of international public relations for independent candidate Nyondo was deported last Friday by Malawian authorities for using “unpopular ways” to raise funds. Nyondo has denied that his visiting American friend was indulging in Malawian politics.
Meanwhile Nyondo, who called himself the “young blood” of Malawian politics, told VOA he will single-handedly defeat incumbent President Mutharika to end what Nyondo called an era of hunger in Malawi.
“Our history as a nation, since 1964 up to now we have had three political parties that governed Malawi, and all these three have been there just for the benefit of themselves. Our poor still live in abject poverty. Donor money is actuall never spent on state projects to benefit the people. That’s why I’m running,” he said.
Nyondo said his chances of defeating incumbent President Mutharika are good because Malawi politics has for long been dominated by the same politicians.
“Malawians are tired of political parties, the same incumbents from the same generations of other leaders we have had in Malawi, and their thinking on how to spend money is the same. Malawians now are wiser than they were five, six years ago. They are talking and Malawians now want change. So I think the incumbent now has a disadvantage of being a leader of a political party,” Nyondo said.
Some of his critics said while they want new blood in Malawi politics, yet they said they don’t really know what Nyondo stands for. As such, the critics say Malawians would be better off worshiping the devil they know, in this case President Mutharika, than to worship the devil they don’t know.
Nyondo said he has popular support among Malawians in the country, particularly the rural population.
“The Malawians who say they know little about me are those who are outside the country. I’ve been working in Malawi in the villages since 2006. There are millions of Malawians who know what I do, and the majority of these people live in the villages. In the towns, yes, I have avoided them deliberately because I did not want the media to define my agenda,” Nyondo said.
Nyondo could not clearly say what he would do for Malawi if he were elected president. Instead he accused incumbent president Mutharika of mismanaging state resources.
“Our leaders here spend state resources as if they were leaders of rich countries. How can they explain buying expensive vehicles, each minister three expensive vehicles and yet in the villages there is clean water, no ambulances, no medicine in hospitals. People are asking how you can do a monument to your ego but not take care of people’s basic needs,” Nyondo said.
He said Malawians have begun to ask questions, thanks to the reach of radio into the rural areas which Nyondo said is making possible for his message to reach rural poor. He described himself as part of Malawi’s new breed of young voters.
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