Stella Chauwa, 28, is geared to tread in the land where even men think twice before they pluck courage to tread. She wants to join frontline politics and become a parliamentarian. Her dream is not without cause. “I got inspired by my grandfather who was once a parliamentarian and cabinet minister during Dr. Kamuzu Banda era, and my aunt who was also Member of Parliament,” explains the young lady. “In fact politics is in my blood because I spent more time with my grandfather and every time he would talk about politics and its dynamics.”
Stella is a granddaughter to Malawi Congress Party (MCP) veteran politician, late Khuma Sendeza, and niece to former MCP parliamentarian, Jean Sendeza, and, as expected, she is an MCP die hard. “I wouldn’t opt for any other party other than MCP,” explains the law-maker in the making. “It’s in my blood, I love MCP.” But it’s not her political family background alone that fuels the Lilongwe youth to chase her dream. She also gets inspiration from the Centre for Multiparty Democracy (CMD) which exists solely for the very reason of empowering women to actively participate in political leadership and decision making roles in the country’s political parties. When Women in Politics caught up with Stella, she was in the thick of a mentorship training organized by CMD where women politicians drawn from the country’s five parties represented in Parliament were brought together to be drilled in leadership, communication and mentorship, among other things
She believes time has come for the youth to take the centre stage in political parties because they (the youth) have the vigor and capacity to move with time in the ever changing world. “The youth will add numbers that are needed,” explains the aspiring legislator. “They will add the needed energy to run modern and tough political campaigns. The youth will bring skills to mobilize supporters and monitor electoral process. “And above all, the youth will help forge a relevant agenda or manifesto that speaks to majority of our population who are young people below 30 years.”
Stella describes her party as a youth friendly party where the old guards give space to the youth and encourage them to learn the ropes. It is this space in the party, coupled with CMD’s inspirational programmes that make Stella stay focused and determined. “My ambition is to contest in 2019, become a Member of Parliament and change the way women participate in politics,” she explains, her tone already carrying a lilt of a politician on a campaign podium. “I want to do away with the mentality of looking down upon women; the Ng’ombe yaikazi sikoka ngolo (a cow cannot cart a wagon) attitude and, I tell you, if that time comes where the 50-50 campaign will be achieved, Malawi will never be the same because women know the people’s needs more than men do.” Stella, hails from Mbwatalika Village, TA Malili in Lilongwe and, other than running a business, she is currently studying Business Administration.