Friday, July 17, 2009

Chirwa asks Katele to stop silencing other MMD presidential candidates

Chirwa asks Katele to stop silencing other MMD presidential candidates
Written by Patson Chilemba
Friday, July 17, 2009 5:13:23 AM

MMD presidential aspirant Professor Clive Chirwa yesterday asked Katele Kalumba to stop silencing other presidential candidates when he has allowed others to freely campaign for President Rupiah Banda.

Commenting on MMD national secretary Kalumba's threat to take action against those he felt were making a mockery of the party and his directives to stop presidential campaign politics, Prof Chirwa said the perception was that Kalumba was promoting undemocratic and dictatorial tendencies towards President Banda by stopping other aspirants from talking about presidential campaigns when others were freely campaigning for him.

"This is a democratic process and in a democratic process, you cannot stop anybody from talking about aspirations and where perhaps that person has got a vision...therefore you can't stop people from speaking about the presidency because it is part of the democratic process. You cannot just come on the last minute and say 'oh yes! I can start speaking about the presidency'. It might be too late," Prof Chirwa said. "I do not believe that it is right for Katele Kalumba to be silencing everybody while the people who have forwarded the name of His Excellency are actually campaigning on his behalf. And you can see that things are moving very fast indeed. I hear that the first lady is supplying this and that in hospital."

Prof Chirwa said people must be given the platform to advance their vision and presidential aspirations.

"Now when you silence them, that becomes something like a censored venture, and when it becomes censored, it becomes dictatorial," he said.

On President Banda's U-turn over the presidency when he had earlier announced that he would only govern for three years, Prof Chirwa said he would speak to the President to find out if it was true that he wanted to stand.

He said he believed that there were people who were advancing the President's candidature for their own benefit.

"That's why I want to have an audience with him. If he doesn't give me the opportunity to see him, that means it's him who wants to stand. And the only way we can do that is to meet at the convention," Prof Chirwa said.

On calls from some MMD members to postpone the convention, Prof Chirwa said there were party members who had tried to justify the move by saying that even the major opposition PF had never held a convention.

However, Prof Chirwa said MMD had a constitution, which should be obeyed. Prof Chirwa said there were party members who felt that President Banda would lose at the convention.

"But he should not be scared. Let him present the vision. If he wins, I will support him," Prof Chirwa said.

On MMD spokesperson Benny Tetamashimba's statement that he would not be allowed to contest the presidency because he was not a member of the party, Prof Chirwa produced evidence that he was in fact an MMD member as well as party treasurer in Katuba Constituency.

Prof Chirwa's statement comes in the wake of the arguments involving Kalumba and Magande over presidential campaign politics. Kalumba had initially ordered party members to stop talking about campaign politics because they were becoming divisive, but Magande argued that nobody including the national secretary would stop him from talking about the matter.

Kalumba then warned that he would take action against all party members who tried to make a mockery of the party and his directives. In response, Magande said he was ready to be disciplined for talking about presidential campaign politics.

Magande maintained that he would continue talking about the presidency for as long as people like President Rupiah Banda, Southern Province minister Daniel Munkombwe, Mulongoti and Tetamashimba continued to champion the President's candidature.

Prof Chirwa said there was no need for the country to have so many political parties when the population was small.

On the PF and UPND pact, Prof Chirwa said the pact was welcome and MMD should not feel intimidated. He said MMD should in fact, up their performance in view of the challenge posed by the pact.

And Prof Chirwa said MMD national chairman Michael Mabenga was not fit to serve as lands deputy minister because the Supreme Court established that he abused about K30 million Constituency Development Fund (CDF).

Prof Chirwa said Mabenga did not deserve to be a deputy minister since there was a Supreme Court ruling against him.

Prof Chirwa further charged that it was a disgrace for the country to have low caliber ministers like Tetamashimba who he said he could not employ not even as a secretary.

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