Nankhumwa (3rd from right) at the centre of it all
* Nankhumwa should have been expelled from the Party a long time ago
* The legal experts in the Party should have studied a way of expelling Nankhumwa or sidelining him without crossing the law
* He is willing to drag the Party through the mud, but the Party does not appear to be firm in dealing with him
* The current injunction should have been anticipated and proper strategy put in place to outmaneuver the rebels
By Duncan Mlanjira
Time is running out for the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) to get its house in order, says US-based political analyst, Cedrick Ngalande over the theatrical internal leadership squabbles that sorrounds beleaguered vice-president for the South, Kondwani Nankhumwa.
Ngalande contends that Nankhumwa’s issue “has been playing around for a long time”, adding that the DPP’s slow pace to solve the impasse “is taking the focus away from the Tonse Alliance failings”.
“The DPP should have taken itself out of the news and let the people see from for themselves what is essentially the ‘incompetence’ of the Tonse Alliance,” Ngalande said.
“Instead, these DPP quarrels are taking that spotlight away from Tonse’s failures. Instead of talking about [Vice—President Saulos] Chilima’s corruption allegations and discussing the possible involvement of President [Lazarus Chakwera], people are focusing on the Leader of Opposition issue.
“Nankhumwa should have been expelled from the Party a long time ago. The legal experts in the Party should have studied a way of expelling Nankhumwa or sidelining him without crossing the law.
“He is willing to drag the Party through the mud, but the Party does not appear to be firm in dealing with him. The current injunction should have been anticipated and proper strategy put in place to outmaneuver the rebels.
“This injunction could lead to another long court fight, and we already know that the courts are not exactly fair to DPP.
“The DPP has a constitution which guides the way members behave and the consequences of misbehavior. If they cannot remove Nankhumwa based on that constitution, then that constitution needs to be rewritten — it is useless.”
Ngalande, who expressed but withdrew his interest to contest for the Malawi presidency prior to the 2019 tripartite elections, argue further that the “DPP will not win in 2025 if with different factions pulling in different directions”.
“The DPP cannot win with Nankhumwa as its leader. Nankhumwa has no credibility nor gravitas to do so. Chakwera may be a bad president, but he is not stupid. He will walk all over Nankhumwa easily in 2025.”
Ngalande’s analysis on the effects of the stand-off in the high echelons of leadership of the DPP was also voiced out by Human Rights Defenders Coalition (HRDC), which contends it is collapsing its role as the main Opposition of the government.
A statement issued on June 23 by national chairperson, Gift Trapence and his executive committee, said as the DPP is being torn apart by internal fights it is rendering it too ineffective to provide the necessary checks and balances as well as offer alternative policy options to Tonse Administration’s handling of national issues.
The United Democratic Front (UDF) was also not been spared, saying it has “folded into a briefcase with little or no influence on the country’s national affairs”.
“In this regard, HRDC calls on Malawians to be vigilant in order to ensure that Tonse government lives to people’s expectations in fulfilling its electoral promises.”
On Tuesday, June 28, the Malawi Parliament changed its earlier stand in which it recognized DPP’s appointment of George Chaponda as Leader of Opposition and reinstated Nankhumwa after 22 DPP’s MPs were granted a court injunction restraining the Party from removing the incumbent holder of this very important role in the august House.
Following Chaponda’s appointment by the DPP to replace Nankhumwa, Parliament had invited him to attend the august House’s Business Committee meeting scheduled for Wednesday, June 29 but the decision was reversed after the court injunction — thus reverted to Nankhumwa to attend the important meeting.
In granting the injunction in the High Court in Lilongwe on Tuesday, Justice Kenyatta Nyirenda ordered that the status quo that existed before Chaponda’s appointment be maintained and that “any disobedience of this Order will amount to contempt of court for which committal proceedings for imprisonment may follow”.
This also followed a press statement that DPP secretary general Grezelder Jeffrey issued on Sunday in which she maintained that Chaponda’s appointment — made at Party president Peter Mutharika’s PAGE House in Mangochi on Sunday, replacing the beleaguered DPP vice-president — should be deemed as null and void.
Jeffrey singled out anomalies of the caucus, saying it was attended by a minority number of MPs — both DPP and independents — “who were deliberately selected to participate in the election.”
“Many MPs were not invited. As a matter of fact, even myself — as secretary general of the party — was not and did not attend,” Jeffrey said, adding that “that no actual election took place, instead one independent legislator simply proposed Hon. Chaponda’s name and few others confirmed and the meeting then adopted Hon. Chaponda as having been ‘elected’”.
The 22 MPs, led by MPs Werani Chirenga and Mark Botomani, who have obtained the injunction were the ones that were snubbed from the special caucus.
They are Nicholas Dausi; Ralph Jooma; Sameer Suleman; Ismael Grant; Yusuf Nthenda; Esther Majaza; Santigo Phiri; Bester Awali; Gertrude Nankhumwa; De. Susuwele Banda; Dr. Matthews Ngwale; George Million; Raymond Nkhata; Chione Mwale; Joyce Chitsulo; Reuben Kanyama; Francis Phiri; Noel Lipipa; Denis Namachekacjeka and Sandram Scott.
The injunction granted by High Court Judge Kenyatta Nyirenda in Lilongwe was against Chaponda as 1st defendant and the DPP as 2nd defendant, upon whose hearing from their legal counsel, Wapona Kita and joint sworn statement of Werani Chirenga and Mark Botomani, and other skeleton arguments, Justice Nyirenda said he “was satisfied that a good cause has been made out for the grant of an order of interlocutory injunction subject to an inter partes hearing on the 7th of July, 2022 at 9:00 in the forenoon”.
Chaponda was thus “restrained from acting or holding out as Leader of Opposition in or outside Malawi Parliament” and that the DPP, is also restrained from recognizing Chaponda as Leader of Opposition and further restrained from implementing its decision of electing Chaponda to the position.
Several attempts have been made by APM to reconcile leadership differences rocking the party, which has its vice-president for the Southern Region, Nankhumwa at the centre of it all.
While some members of the DPP are touting Mutharika to contest for the DPP presidency and run for the state presidency, saying he was eligible having only served one term, Nankhumwa is on the ground to try and unseat him at the next DPP convention.
There are also other party presidency aspirants that include gurus like former Cabinet Minister Joseph Mwanamveka; former Reserve Bank of Malawi Governor, Dalitso Kabambe; Bright Msaka; Paul Gadama and David Mbewe.