Out of 72 DPP MPs, 40 were not invited where Nankhumwa was removed as Leader of Opposition

The caucus at PAGE House in Mangochi 

* Notable DPP gurus absent included Nankhumwa himself; Jappie Mhango; Mark Botoman; Chimunthu Banda; Ralph Jooma; Noel Lipipa Nicholas Dausi

* Nankhumwa has been replaced by George Chaponda while Simon Vuwa Kaunda was appointed Chief Whip

By Duncan Mlanjira

Not even half of Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) Members of Parliament were invited to Sunday’s extraordinary meeting held at party  president Peter Mutharika’s PAGE House in Mangochi where beleaguered vice-president for the South, Kondwani Nankhumwa was removed as the DPP’s Leader of Opposition.

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A statement from administrative secretary, Francis Mphepo said soon after the meeting that the decision was done by “virtue of powers vested in the Party under Standing Orders 35 and 36 of the National Assembly”.

Nankhumwa has been replaced by George Chaponda also “under and by virtue of the powers vested in its Standing Order 35(1) of the National Assembly”.

The Party also announced the appointment of Simon Vuwa Kaunda as Chief Whip, Lonnie Chijere Phiri as deputy Chief Whip and Victoria Kingstone as deputy Leader of the Back Benchers.


The MPs present were George Chaponda; Shadric Namalomba; Joseph Mwanamveka; Chimwemwe Chipungu; Bright Msaka; Vuwa Kaunda; Kilekwa; Gladys Ganda; Mzomera; Thoko Tembo; Ndebele; Mpanga; Mathanda; Fyness Magonnjwa; Chijere; Matola; Malowa; Masamba; Mavuto Bokosi; Malume Bokosi; Victor Musowa; Ben Phiri; Brown Mpinganjira; O. Shaba; Nomale; Chida; Charles Mchacha; Chambo; Mwina;  Kachingwe; Ndalama; Chimalira and Makande.

Absent were Nankhumwa himself; his wife Gertrude Nankhumwa; Jappie Mhango; Mark Botoman; Chimunthu Banda; Ralph Jooma; Noel Lipipa; Nicholas Dausi; Dr Ngwale; Dr Susuwele; Jusuf Nthenda; Sameer Suleiman; Majaza; Navicha;  Kwelepeta; Gadama; Kanyama; Namachekecha; Scott; Tambala; Mwambande; Awali; Grant; Mambala; Kutsaira; Chilenga; Mwase; Chomanika; Million; Phiso; Santigo Phiri; Nkhata; Kingston; Naeja; Chitsulo; Masebo; Bongwe; Naliwa and White.

Nankhumwa

Meanwhile, Nankhumwa had threaten to take Peter Mutharika to court if he went ahead with Sunday’s meeting through a letter from Nankhumwa’s lawyers, Chidothe, Chidothe, who had on Saturday advised APM not to go ahead.

The lawyers reminded APM that he was in contempt of Civil Case No. 898 of 2020, filed by the party’s renegades — Nankhumwa; Grezelder Jeffrey; Jappie Mhango and Yusuf Nthenda.

The lawyers said on June 13, they wrote APM discouraging him and his party’s Central Committee from proceeding with a meeting scheduled for the next day, June 14 for the sole reason that their clients  Nankhumwa; Jeffrey; Mhango and Nthenda were not invited despite being members of the Central Committee.

The lawyers take cognizance that APM still proceeded with the meeting despite being reminded “that it will amount to contempt of Court”.

“To make matters worse, the said meeting was attended by some people who are not members of the said committee by virtue of their positions.”

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The lawyers also informed APM that their clients had information that the DPP’s national organizing secretary, Chimwemwe Chipungu had invited the party’s Members of Parliament and other independent legislators to the meeting — which was in progress as of this afternoon at PAGE House in Mangochi.

The lawyers also indicate that there are some “bonafide” MPs and again was not called by Jeffrey as the secretary general.

“You may wish to know, Your Excellency, that Court Orders are supposed to be obeyed at all costs. We are aware that you are aware of the consequences of disobeying a Court Order”

“The reason for writing this letter is to request you for last time that the said court order should be respected and that if the Party continues to disobey it we shall have no option but to commence contempt proceedings against all who are organizing this meeting and those who organized and participated in both meetings, including you, Your Excellency,” said the lawyers.

Just last Thursday, Human Rights Defenders Coalition (HRDC) issued a statement censuring President Lazarus Chakwera’s administration and it it the civil society organisation bemoaned that the internal leadership stand-off in the high echelons of the DPP is collapsing its role as the main Opposition of the government.

A failed reconciliation meeting

A statement issued by national chairperson, Gift Trapence and his executive committee, said the DPP is being torn apart by internal fights — 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,” Trapence said in the statement.

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.

At a political rally organised by the DPP’s Central Region executive committee in April — dubbed ‘Blue Saturday @ Mgona’ — the party’s vice-president for the centre, Zelia Chikale emphasized that APM has the constitutional right to stand again as the Head of State.

While assuring that it is up to APM to decide whether he wants to contest again, Chakale asked the huge gathering of DPP members if it was their wish for the former President to rule again — to which she received a resounding vote of confirmation.

She went on to say that anyone wishing to contest for the 2025 presidential race should quit the DPP and form their own party or contest for the party presidency during the DPP’s convention — at which APM will express his intention to retain the leadership.

The DPP’s Regional Governor for the South, Charles Mchacha — who is Member of Parliament for Thyolo West and has in recent weeks made same calls that APM will stand again as Party president as well as contest for the country’s presidency in 2025 race — also reiterated his stand as a vote of confidence from the Southern Region and the rest of the country’s DPP membership.

He had concurred with Chakale that those wishing to contest for the country’s presidency in 2025 race, should quit the DPP and form their own party or to contest against APM for the Party presidency during DPP’s convention.

Chisale’s rally was preceded by that held by the beleaguered DPP vice-president, Nankhumwa which was also organised at the same Mgona venue.

Nankhumwa’s leadership feud with APM has stretched since 2020 that started when his party president tried to strip him of his position as Leader of Opposition — a decision which he challenged in Parliament and was later fired from the party together with fellow renegades — treasurer general, Jappie Mhango; secretary-general Gelzeder Jeffrey and MP for Mulanje West Yusuf Nthenda.

The four challenged the dismissal in court and were later reinstated but the feud still remains — thus HRDC bemoaning that this internal political party impasse that is being deemed to slowly shaking the foundations of the main Opposition party.

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