Parliament recognises appointment of Chaponda as DPP Leader of Opposition by inviting him to Business Committee meeting

Chaponda, DPP Mulanje South West MP

* As Jeffrey maintains appointment as null and void after over half DPP MPs snubbed from Mangochi caucus

* Main purpose of the Business Committee meeting is to prepare for the 6th meeting in the 49th Session of Parliament

* You are therefore being requested to attend this meeting in your capacity as Leader of Opposition

By Duncan Mlanjira

Beleaguered Democratic Progressive Party vice-president, Kondwani Nankhumwa — in liaison with fellow renegade, secretary general Grezelder Jeffrey — maintain that Sunday’s appointment of George Chaponda as Leader of Opposition should be deemed as null and void bu Parliament has since recognized the appointment by inviting Chaponda to Business Committee meeting.

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A letter from Clerk of Parliament, Fiona Kalemba first congratulates the Mulanje South West MP and goes on to invite him to the Business Committee meeting to be held in the Parliament Speaker’s boardroom on Wednesday, June 29.

Kalemba said the main purpose of the meeting is to prepare for the 6th meeting in the 49th Session of Parliament scheduled for Monday, July 18 to August 12

“You are therefore being requested to attend this meeting in your capacity as Leader of Opposition,” said the letter dated June 27.

Jeffrey, beleaguered DPP secretary general 

Meanwhile, in a press statement issued on Sunday, June 26 by Jeffrey — with emphasis that she was doing so in her capacity as secretary general, says she and others do not recognize Chaponda’s appointment that took place at the Party President, Peter Mutharika’s PAGE House in Mangochi.

She quoted that Nankhumwa “was duly elected by over two thirds of all DPP and independent Parliamentarians affiliated to the DPP in an election that was sanctioned by the Office of the Speaker of the National Assembly unlike today’s meeting which deliberately sodelined other MPs”.

“It has been established that the meeting in Mangochi was attended by a minority number of MPs — both DPP and independents— who were deliberately selected to participate in the election.”

“For instance, only 34 MPs attended the meeting that nominated and confirmed Hon. Chaponda as the new Leader of Opposition. Many MPs were not invited. As a matter of fact, even myself — as secretary general of the party — was not and did not attend.

“It has also transpired 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’.”

Nankhumwa

Jeffrey says following “the purported election of Chaponda”, the administrative secretary to the party, Francis Mphepo issued a letter but according to Jeffrey, “this communication is an illegality and against the DPP’s constitution because it is the secretary general who is mandated to issue letters of this nature”.

“Mr. Francis Mphepo is a secretary in my office band works under my instructions. In this case, however, Innever delegated or instructed him to do so.

“In view of the anomalies, I appeal to all DPP members and all Malawians to disregard the communication from Mr. Francis Mphepo and consider the said election null and void,” says Jeffrey.

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Not even half of DPP MPs were invited to Sunday’s extraordinary meeting where Nankhumwa was removed as Leader of Opposition and in the statement prepared by the administrative secretary, Francis Mphepo said soon after the meeting said the decision was done by “virtue of powers vested in the Party under Standing Orders 35 and 36 of the National Assembly”.

Nankhumwa had 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.

Mutharika presiding over Sunday’s caucus



Meanwhile, Nankhumwa had threatened 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.

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 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.

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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.

Better days between APM and Nankhumwa

A failed reconciliation meeting

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.

Mchacha and Nankhumwa in better days

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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