Blantyre, Friday. Malawi President Joyce Banda has picked her 37-year-old minister of Trade and Industry Sosten Gwengwe as running mate in the upcoming elections, sidelining current deputy Khumbo Kachali.
President Banda said her decision to put the youthful minister on her ticket was a way of showing commitment to empowering and promoting the youth to take over the country’s leadership.
She said she had prayed over her choice of running mate and had not doubt the youthful minister would deliver. The country needed both youth and experience at the helm, she said.
“We say the youth are the leaders of tomorrow but this statement denies the youth their rightful role in participating in the development of the country (today),” she said.
Malawi holds a general election on May 20.
Mr Gwengwe will accompany President Banda on Friday to present her nomination papers in Blantyre, among the last of the candidates to do so.
Conspicuously missing at the Thursday press conference that was Mr Kachali, but President Banda said she informed him of her decision to opt for another running mate.
“I did not expect any reaction from him. I informed him of my decision and we hugged before he left,” she said.
Media in Malawi on Thursday quoted Mr Kachali saying that if Mrs Banda din not nominate him as her running mate it would be a vote of no confidence in him.
President Banda said the agreement with Mr Kachali in 2012 when she had ascended to power following President Bingu wa Mutharika’ s death was that he would only be her deputy for two years. (AFP)
President Banda also said she had opted to nominate a youthful man against a woman because she is aware of how female leaders are ridiculed by Malawians in general.
“I could have nominated a youthful female running mate but I know how female leaders are ridiculed in a society. I am one of the most ridiculed persons,” she said.
The new running mate hailed President Banda for being gender sensitive.
“Of all the presidential aspirants you are the only candidate who has combined a male and female individual. Other parties have either a male to male or female to female combination,” he said.
Mr Gwengwe brings to three the youthful candidates so far participating in the forthcoming presidential race, including Mr Atupele Muluzi, 35, on a United Democratic Front ticket.
DPP presidential aspirant Peter Mutharika nominated 41-year-old Saulosi Chilima.
Most of the presidential aspirants who have presented their nomination papers have urged the Malawi Electoral Commission (MEC) to ensure it conducts a free and fair poll.