Embattled DPP vice-president, Kondwani Nankhumwa
* You will only be allowed to hold the mass rally and meet Southern Regional Executive Committee ONLY when you get such approval in writing
* Nankhumwa is embroiled in leadership wrangle within the DPP hierarchy
* The most recent being removed as Leader of Opposition and replaced by George Chaponda
By Duncan Mlanjira
The embattled Democratic Progress Party (DPP) vice-president (South), Kondwani Nankhumwa has been referred to party president Peter Mutharika to seek permission to address a mass rally at Nyambadwe Primary School grounds in Blantyre scheduled for July 31.
Nankhumwa — who is Leader of Opposition in Parliament representing the DPP — wrote the party’s Regional Governor (South), Charles Mchacha on Thursday, informing him of his intention to hold the rally.
He also indicated that he would “soon be calling for a meeting of the Regional Executive meeting to start preparations for the rally” and ends with a statement: “Wishing you all the best as we work together in promoting the DPP common agenda.”
He copied the letter to Bertha Nachuma, regional director of women and to Yona Mlotha, regional director of youth — to whom Mchacha also copied, saying Nankhumwa’s announcement was “noted” but he advised him to seek approval from president of the party before proceeding with his plans “as party protocol and etiquette demands”.
“You will only be allowed to hold the mass rally and meet Southern Regional Executive Committee ONLY when you get such approval in writing,” said Mchacha.
Nankhumwa is embroiled in leadership wrangle within the DPP hierarchy — the most recent being removed as Leader of Opposition and replaced by George Chaponda.
Nankhumwa sought court intervention from which he was granted an injunction and thus reinstated — to the chagrin of the rest of the party leadership that appointed Chaponda as replacement during a caucus which Mutharika held at his personal retirement residence, the PAGE House in Mangochi last month.
The injunction was granted to 22 DPP Members of Parliament by the High Court in Lilongwe on June 28 in which Justice Kenyatta Nyirenda ordered that the status quo that existed before Chaponda’s appointment be maintained.
This also followed a press statement that DPP secretary general Grezelder Jeffrey earlier issued in which she maintained that Chaponda’s appointment should be deemed as null and void — singling out anomalies of the caucus that 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,” Jeffrey had said. “As a matter of fact, even myself — as secretary general of the party — was not and did not attend.”
She added 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’”.
This is not the first time that an attempt was made by Nankhumwa’s own party to replace him as Leader of Opposition — the first some two years ago in which Nankhumwa also opposed in liaison with Jeffrey, Jappie Mhango and Yusuf Nthenda.
Following this rebellion, Mutharika fired the four but they also went to court which granted an injunction and the dismissals were rescinded and they were reinstated in their various posts.
In November last year, Mutharika hosted a reconciliatory meeting but it but Nankhumwa continued his political estrangement with the party when Nankhumwa strongly refuted a statement made after the meeting that he had “unconditionally withdrawn the defamation case” he filed through the court against four senior members of the party — Francis Mphepo, Brown Mpinganjira, Zellia Chakale and Charles Mchacha.
During the reconciliatory meeting, Mutharika invited Nankhumwa and fellow party presidential aspirants — Paul Gadama; Dalitso Kabambe; David Mbera; Bright Msaka and Joseph Mwanamveka — that led the party to issue the notice indicating that Nankhumwa had thrown in an olive branch with the DPP.
Beginning of this year, Nankhumwa continued to court controversy within the party when he forced Mutharika to demand a retraction of a political poster on which the vice-president used a picture of himself and that of party founder, late Bingu wa Mutharika.
APM reacted by issuing a statement that he felt aggrieved over the use of his late brother’s picture, saying the “purpose of this callous action is to give the impression that the late Bingu would have endorsed” Nankhumwa’s party president candidacy.
Mutharika had maintained that as head of the Mutharika family, he had been distressed by this exploitation and asked Nankhumwa to withdraw the poster and to never post another one — which he never did.
The poster — with a screaming headline said: ‘Kalikonse Mukaona in 2022’ — quoted Bingu as saying “Power is never given on a silver platter. You must fight for it”.
Mutharika was also forced to voice out his outrage on Nankhumwa when he visited a man identified as Kalani Thom Mutharika — who claimed to be a relation to both Bingu and Peter — a move which was seen as Nankhumwa trying to gain political mileage.
Mutharika disputed and rejected claims that Kalani Thom Mutharika is related to his clan, saying in APM’s family were six children who survived adulthood — Jimmie, Lizzie, Bingu, Ida, Peter (our President) and Christina.
Thus Mutharika saw Kalani Thom as “a fraud and an impostor,” whilst asking Nankhumwa to “slow down and reflect” as he is taking his “war for presidency too far against innocent people”.
However, Kalani Thom — through his son Pastor Joseph Thom Mutharika maintained the relationship with APM and Bingu and demanded an apology from Mutharika for describing him as an impostor.
The visit by Nankhumwa was to show that Kalani Thom was destitute having been ill for some time — an indication that the Mutharika family was neglecting him.
Nankhumwa is reported to have donated various assorted items for Kalani’s upkeep and also pledged to construct him a decent house as he does not own one and lives in his sister’s house at Kachingwe Village in Traditional Authority Mkalo in Chiradzulu.