By Kondwani Magombo
Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) Saturday welcomed independent legislator for Mangochi-Masongola, Ishmael Sainet Grant Rashid into the blue camp.
Some DPP parliamentarians who graced the occasion at Namwera Trading Centre included Shadric Namalomba (Mangochi South-West), Victoria Kingston (Mangochi Central), Francesca Theula Masamba (Mangochi East) and Ajilu Richard Kalitedere (Machinga North East).
Two ministers that were present, Ralph Jooma and Mark Botoman, said it was exciting to see more Members of Parliament who won on independent ticket flocking to the ruling DPP.
Botoman, the Minister of Information, Civic Education and Communications Technology who is Zomba-Chisi MP described the coming of independent parliamentarians to the DPP as a sign of trust and confidence the legislators have in the party and its leadership.
“This development simply means they (independent parliamentarians) are endorsing the legitimacy of President Prof. Peter Mutharika’s victory and as a party, we welcome them,” said Botoman.
Commenting on the same, Jooma who is DPP parliamentarian for Mangochi – Monkey-Bay said President Mutharika was happy with Rashid’s move and that the coming of other MPs from the eastern region was to congratulate him for the bold decision.
Jooma said the official welcoming ceremony of the Mangochi-Masongola MP to the DPP would be conducted by the party’s Vice President for the region, Bright Msaka, at a time to be announced later.
The minister had earlier in the day laid foundation stones for construction of three bridges: one on Nkasi River in Mangochi-Southwest constituency and two in the defecting independent parliamentarian’s Mangochi-Masongola Constituency.
“Look, just two months after the May 21 elections we are here cerebrating the coming of development in the area following the laying of foundation stones for the construction of Kamwendo and Mtindiwale bridges.
“This is a government that listens and responds to the people’s needs,” said Jooma in an interview.
He added that government would also upgrade to bitumen standard the seven-kilometre loop road from Mangochi-Machinga main road to Namwera Trading Centre through a few off-road institutions and back into the main road.
The new member in the blue camp, Rashid, said in an interview the day’s event was just formalizing his decision, saying technically, he had already made the move in Parliament where he said he started sitting on the ruling DPP side right from day one.
“I have always wanted to be remembered as one of the MPs who changed the lives of their constituents to better levels during their reign and I realized that the only way to achieve that is to join the ruling party,” said Rahid who heads a charitable NGO, Gift of Givers.
“As an NGO person, I have connections that can help me in developing my constituency and by joining the DPP, I’ve balanced up the equation,” he added.
Rashid emerged winner with 6,990 votes in a heavily contested race with nine candidates including incumbent United Democratic Front (UDF) Rasheed John Pemba Msusa.
Other notable candidates for the seat were former parliamentarians Moffat Yakiti and Abudala Ali Mdala who contested on DPP and independent tickets respectively.