By Duncan Mlanjira
After a long silence since been voted out of power in the June fresh presidential elections (FPE), Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) President, Arthur Peter Mutharika says he has been quiet all along because he wants to give his successor enough time to establish himself.
Speaking at his private residence in Mangochi, APM said DPP is a democratic party and he cannot appoint or impose someone on the people.
“We will have a convention to elect a new party leader, and whoever wins has my support up to 2025,” he said.
“But I am surprised there are some individuals who are in a hurry. I will not allow that. They are selfish individuals who are bent to sell the party to the highest bidder.”
He said this in direct reference to the division that is happening championed by the party’s renegades, Kondwani Nankhumwa; Grelzeder Jeffrey; Jappie Mhango and Yusuf Nthenda.
Other renegades are Nankhumwa’s wife, Getrude; former Minister of Information Mark Botoman; former Minister of Transport and Public Works of Ralph Jooma; Sameer Suleman; Grant Scott; Majaza; Kwelepeta; Joy Chitsulo and Bester Awali.
These renegades were excluded from a meeting which the former State President organised with the party’s Members of Parliament early this month.
APM added that he is not clinging to the party leadership and took particular swipe on an individual member whom he says has been in the party for only a year from the People’s Party yet is threatening to shut the party’s branches calling for the convention.
He said that is irresponsible and he will not accept that. “I will guide the party to the next convention. I will not leave you. I will fight anyone who wants to the sell the party to the highest bidder.”
He, however owned up that the DPP’s structures at area, zone, constituency and regional level have collapsed but promised that they are rebuilding in preparation for the convention.
Amongst others, the DPP has set up a Functional Review Committee — headed by Eastern Region vice-President, Bright Msaka, to revitalize the party structures and is expected to present its report to the National Governing Council (NGC) by end of this month.
From there, once the NGC adopts the proposals, the party intends to proceed with elections of party leaders from area, zone, constituency up to regional levels.
Mutharika defended his description of the June fresh presidential elections the “so called FPE”, saying that election was a fallacy.
“Some quarters just wanted to get rid of me. The court ordered 50+1 but, look there was no 50+1 in the Constitution then,” he said.
Asked if he has had any talks lately with the President Lazarus Chakwera, APM refused to comment on this, saying: “That’s private and let’s give privacy the respect it deserves.”
The revolt in the DPP started when Nankhumwa — with support from Jeffrey, Mhango and Nthenda — protested the replacement of Nankhumwa as Leader of Opposition against Mutharika’s choice of Francis Kasaila.
The four were then fired from the party but they sought and was granted an injunction by the High Court the next day, October 3 that stopped the DPP from effecting the dismissals.
Nankhumwa then proceeded to organise a rally at Bangwe in Blantyre and in what is believed to be an effort to frustrate the DPP vice-president for the South’s blatant disregard of party protocol, Mutharika summoned 58 of its Members of Parliament at his private residence in Mangochi — excluding the nine renegades.
When Speaker of Parliament announced Kasaila as Leader of Opposition as directed by Mutharika, Nthenda — Member of Parliament for Mulanje West — moved a point of order that what Mutharika had been trying to do was against Standing Orders.
Nthenda reminded the House that Mutharika does not have powers to elect who to be a Leader of Opposition but rather the DPP MPs who do so.
Nthenda had disclosed that the DPP MPs did not sit down to nominate the members that should be considered for appointed as Leader of Opposition as per Parliamentary Standing Orders.
Following the arguments presented by Nthenda, the Deputy Speaker deferred Mutharika’s decision communication and that the Leader of the Opposition remains Nankhumwa.
The Deputy Speaker had asked the DPP MPs to go back to their drawing table and come up with a name.
Meanwhile, the election of the Leader of the Opposition went ahead and Nankhumwa emerged the winner.