By Duncan Mlanjira
Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) renegades, Kondwani Nankhumwa; Grelzeder Jeffrey; Jappie Mhango and Yusuf Nthenda, together with nine others, have been excluded for Sunday’s meeting which former President Peter Mutharika has organised with the party’s Members of Parliament.
The others 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.
The DPP is embroiled in leadership crisis in which the four — Nankhumwa; Jeffrey; Mhango and Nthenda, were fired from the party on Friday, October 2 for leading a revolt against Mutharika’s choice of Francis Kasaila as Leader of Opposition, democratically removing Nankhumwa.
The four sought and was granted an injunction by the High Court the next day, Saturday, October 3, that stopped the DPP from effecting the dismissal and if the order is disobeyed, the party may be found guilty of contempt of court and may be sent to prison or fined or its asset seized.
Meanwhile, Nankhumwa had organised a rally scheduled at Bangwe in Blantyre on Sunday and what is believed to be an effort to frustrate the DPP vice-president for the South, Mutharika has summoned 61 of its Members of Parliament at his private residence in Mangochi.
The MPs who have been excluded are deemed renegades in support of Nankhumwa’ revolt and are also expected to grace the Bangwe rally.
The DPP on Friday announced that Nankhumwa, who is Leader of the Opposition, has since been replaced by Joseph Mwamvekha as vice-president for the South; Jeffrey by Samuel Tembenu secretary general and Mhango by Nickson Masebo as treasurer general.
The development comes after Nankhumwa rebelled against Mutharika’s decision to replace him as Leader of the Opposition in favour of Francis Kasaila and when the DPP president went ahead to inform Speaker of Parliament on the position of Leader of the Opposition, Nthenda moved a point of order that what Mutharika was 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.
The Orders say that whenever it is necessary for the Assembly to elect Leader of Opposition, whether after a general election or when a vacancy in that office has occurred in any other way, the procedure for election shall be provided.
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 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.
Nankhumwa had a strong backing of a majority of the DPP MPs, led by Jeffrey, Mhango and Nthenda and the other renegades left out from the Mangochi caucus.
Further to this revolt is an announcement that Jeffrey — as DPP’s secretary general — issued on Thursday inviting the party’s National Governing Council (NGC) to a meeting scheduled for Saturday, October 3 at Capital City Motel in Lilongwe.
The agenda was to discuss the forthcoming by-elections, post elections postmortem and any other business.
But the party’s spokesperson, Brown Mpinganjira swiftly moved in to counter Jeffrey’s communication, saying the intended NGC meeting was not sanctioned nor called for either the Saturday one or any in the next few days.
Mpinganjira announced that the party had already announced plans to hold an NGC meeting after the Functional Review Committee has completed its task and presented its findings and recommendations to the Central Committee.
“The power to call for an NGC meeting does not lie in any particular individual, however high their station in life might be — rather such powers lie in the institutions of the party,” Mpinganjira had said.
He further announced that the party’s Central Committee, chaired by Mutharika normally determines when such a meeting should take place and from there the secretary general informs all NGC members of the planned meeting.
“Any announcement of an NGC meeting that has not evolved from this process is merely aimed at sowing seeds of confusion among the rank and file of the party.
“The party would like to urge all its members and supporters to be vigilant against any attempts from any quarters to divide the party,” says the statement from Mpinganjira.