Monday, April 22, 2013

Chimunthu Banda: His Story..from soccer, politics to Reggae

This might as well be the only authoritative text on one Henry Chimunthu Banda, MP and Speaker of Parliament. I sent a zillion questions to him before the DPP convention, I wanted to get a round story on him and I did. He might have lost the bid to lead DPP in 2014, but we now know him better, thanks to himself.

He is a rare guy, he answered me from his Blackberry, then Ipad indicating that he is not behind the times, his email has the phrase "MoreBlack," indicating a dosage of Rasta or Pan Africanism there...

99% of the text below was written by Chimunthu himself, the questions have been eliminated. Enjoy.

...born on 30th December 1962 from Chipembere village, T A Kanyenda in Nkhotakota.

.....The highest qualification I have is Master’s Degree in Leadership and Change Management (from Leeds Metropolitan University).

...married to Felistace with whom I have three children (one girl and two boys).

......My wife is a graduate of Bunda College. favourite dish is fresh fish either roasted or grilled served with nsima.

........on romantic days we tend to listen to some old songs and albums to remind ourselves of those early days of our relationship. On such days we normally play music of such artists as: Eric Donaldson, Don Williams, and Dolly Parton.

....... During my free time I normally do two things: either going to any one of our farms to supervise farming activities or attending to flowers around the house. In addition to growing crops such as sugarcane, soya beans, maize, burley tobacco, ground nuts, we also rear cattle and goats and do fish farming as well.

....... On music: my favourite is country and western as well as Reggae music. I also like listening to local music of such musicians as Skeffa Chimoto, Lucius  Banda, and Symon ndi Kendle just to mention a few.

...... Favourite sport is football. I like watching as well as playing football.

....... I am inspired by whoever climbs the social ladder against all odds. Without mentioning names, these are individuals I have great admiration for.

........ I am a Christian and a member of CCAP church.

......... My favourite Bible book is Jeremiah...

.......major hobbies: swimming and sightseeing. I like seeing green vegetation around me and around my home. For this reason, quite often I undertake nature walks to admire and appreciate the natural green vegetation, the breath- taking landscapes as well as the lovely water courses that our country is endowed with. You may wish to know that geography and earth sciences are my areas of specialisation.

........ I am aware that in the last two weeks there has been an avalanche of propaganda statements that have been churned against me. But I will not respond to such statements so as not to dignify them. Those statements need to be viewed as signs of desperation for power which I believe is very unfortunate.  However, there is information in the public domain to the effect that I have always been bad- mouthed by certain individuals in the party even when late President Prof Bingu wa Mutharika was alive. There is documentary evidence to that effect.

But as if that was not enough, last year my detractors generated a story that I have sold five houses to raise money for my DPP presidential campaign. Today the story is that I have been given money to destabilise the party. This is very laughable! And I can foresee more propaganda statements coming up as we approach the 17th of April.  But I will not be deterred from achieving my set goal of offering the much needed leadership to the only political party that I helped to form and am it's Trustee.  

I am determined to offer my services against all odds for the furtherance of its ideals. As such I have no I'll-feelings against colleagues who are peddling unfounded stories in the run up to the Convention. I take it that that's the strategy they have opted for.

 .......Question: you recently called your competitor and regional governor south and advised them against practicing politics of regionalism. What was your intention?

Answer: Basing on the contacts that I have had with convention delegates in all the four political regions, it is obvious that I will carry the day during the convention. Party members at Constituency, District, Region and NGC levels are all geared towards ushering in new leadership at the helm of the party. Majority of them have assured me that they want leadership which is tried and tested.  This being the case, I do not want to take over the party which is divided on regional lines.

This is what motivated me to call the colleagues you have asked about.  As president of the party after 17th April, I will continue to reach out to all members of the Party including those who publicly portray the impression that they may not vote for me.  Therefore my immediate task shall be to put systems in place that give confidence to all party members and supporters that the party belong to themselves irrespective of their region of origin.

........Intra- party democracy: what do I promise Malawians and DPP party supporters?

Answer: intra party democracy is an essential element in the functioning of every political party. I consider intra party democracy as democracy within the party itself. Where there is intra party democracy there is collective ownership of decisions which emanate from the culture of free debate of critical issues without fear of reprisals. My vision of the DPP therefore is that of a party that will promote internal debate with an ultimate aim of reducing factionalism.

It will also be necessary to create internal conflict management systems. In the current constitution of the party there is a provision for the creation of the Disciplinary Committee, and my immediate task will be to operationalise this committee for the simple reason of proper handling of emerging conflicts within the party. Furthermore, I am looking forward to creating non- personalised leadership and to identify myself with the people as a servant leader. This is possible because my style of leadership acknowledges the fact that I am simply the first amongst equals.

 My vision for DPP

> Let me begin by saying, the DPP remains the most popular political party in the country at the moment. But that be as it may, there is urgent need to rebrand the party in order to enhance our chances in 2014.

This is so because as a party in power some twelve months ago, there might be areas where we needed to change and position ourselves for yet another victory next year. This is in light of the fact that the party enjoys popular support in all the four political regions.

But as Albert Einstein put it: “you cannot solve problems with the same thinking that you created those problems". My view is that we need to carry out an honest SWOT analysis of the party's strength and weaknesses. Difficult questions must be asked which must be provide honest responses. By so doing, we shall show that we are not only democratic, but progressive as well.

> My vision therefore is to have a party that encompasses the views of all its members in all the four political regions. A party that every member would truly call theirs. I want to lead a party that respects its own fundamental ideologies which were espoused at its formation. My vision is a party whose Members are equal irrespective of their region of origin.

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