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Early bickering in DPP dreadful but necessary: ‘feign’ Tonse Alliance beware

DPP President Mutharika

In any political organization which has people of diverse background and different abilities, wrangles are likely to emerge. Prior to 2014 tripartite elections, 2011 to be specific, the first ruling political party in the multiparty democracy, United Democratic Front (UDF), was involved in a fierce struggle for leadership; Ken Msonda was the one leading the faction that was against Atupele Muluzi who imposed himself as the party’s President.

Prior to 2019 elections, Malawi Congress Party (MCP) was also embroiled in a fierce internal strife which threatened the survival of the party. The internal wrangles saw the political heavy weights like Gustavo Kaliwo, Njobvu Yalema, Felix Jumbe and Dr. Jessie Kabwira being dismissed from the party for opposing the party’s President Lazarus Chakwera’s autocratic leadership. The bone of contention was the coming in of Sidik Mia, who used his financial muscle to rise to the vice presidency in the party. Self acclaimed political analysts said that was the end of MCP and Chakwera. Where is Lazarus Chakwera today? I repeat! Where is LAZARO today?

Well, today the general public, especially the former ruling Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) sympathizers have been treated to shocking news: Kondwani Nankhumwa has been summoned by the party’s disciplinary committee for a hearing.

According to a letter signed by the party’s disciplinary committee secretary Charles Mhango, some of the charges leveled against Nankhumwa include imposing himself as leader of opposition when Peter Mutharika had reportedly settled for George Chaponda, misleading the party’s president and plotting a revolt, meeting Malawi Congress official without getting consent from the president and his questionable background and academic qualifications.

To put all the reactions from the different quarters in one sentence: DPP has goofed. That’s the reaction from both DPP and Tonse Alliance supporters. But what is very interesting, in this internal wrangle, the hardcore DPP critics, who would not wish to see DPP in government again, are the ones spitting venom at the party’s executive for conniving to get rid of Nankhumwa. Imagine Z Allan Ntata writing on his facebook page that “if DPP is not careful, it will die a natural death. Fighting Nankhumwa because he’s more popular than all other old guards?” This is Ntata who is pro UTM and was one of the main actors in the struggle for change of leadership prior to 2019 and 2020 presidential elections.

Anyway, what brings me here is DPP internal strife, and Kondwani Nankhumwa happens to be the main actor in the whole saga. In my view, this crisis has come at a right time and DPP will obviously come out of this wrangle stronger than ever. This is the right time for the party to eject all traitors and start rebranding with those who are loyal. Loyalty in politics is of paramount importance. Some might think it’s the end of the party, but let me tell you in the face: It’s better to be embroiled in squabbles rather than being in a fake alliance as it is the case with Malawi Congress Party and UTM.

On the other hand, DPP created structures at the grassroots and created links with prominent personalities who have sustained forms of pervasive clientelism and patronage. Comeback is possible and these wrangles are a step towards 2025 victory. After all, Tonse Alliance government has already demonstrated that they don’t have a well-functioning administrative apparatus to successfully formulate and implement public policies. It is an alliance full of “talk talk” people. If MCP, a party that is remembered for torturing our grandparents, came back to power after spending 26 years in opposition, then DPP stands a better chance to quickly reorganize and challenge the feigned Tonse Alliance.

Of course what UTM-MCP gurus want in DPP is to see Nankhumwa taking the leadership. Even many DPP followers are of the view that Nankhumwa is so far the best because they can’t see beyond the buffoonery. Let me say it here without fear or favour: Kondwani Nankhumwa is a traitor. During the campaign rallies in preparation for June 23, 2020 presidential elections, Nankhumwa’s messages clearly showed that he was not in good terms with his fellow top officials in the party and he was on his own name recognition campaign. Victory for the party was not his priority.

On March 11, 2020, at the launch of Shire Valley Transformation Programme in Chikwawa North, speaking as Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) Southern Region vice-president, Nankhumwa publicly accused some quarters in the party of tarnishing his image.

 “When I spoke quoting the Bible during the rally held at Njamba, Blantyre [on Sunday], some people questioned why I was doing this when this is the time for fighting, but you have to know that even in the army they have a chaplain meaning that they, too, pray before going to war.

“I want to make it clear that I will continue quoting the Bible because that is the way I am and I will never raise my voice when speaking. I will continue conducting myself in the manner I have always been,” Nankhumwa said before he spoke briefly about the launch of the programme.

Nannkhumwa, who was by then the Agriculture, Irrigation and Water Development Minister went further to say that some executive officials were plotting his downfall.

Considering the time Nankhumwa was uttering such words in public, one would concluded that the man was not fighting for victory of the party as a whole. He was building his own name at the expense of the party. Lest you forget, Nankhumwa has always been a darling of the UTM-MCP hand clappers. Should the party entrust such a person, who has questionable loyalty to the party, with a responsibility to lead the party? Anyway, the convention will decide.

But, in whatever the case, political party leadership must go to a person who exudes steam of unwavering support and loyalty to the party.  However, everyone must be given a chance to participate in the battle for the leadership as per democratic principles and inviting Nankhumwa to a disciplinary committee hearing does not necessarily mean blocking him from contesting for the hot seat. After that hearing people should expect nothing but a strong opposition which will successfully challenge Chakwera, who appears to be timid and not well versed in the art of governance.

We witnessed fierce squabbles in MCP. Kabwira, Jumbe, Njobvuyalema, Kaliwo and others  were ejected. In 2018 Chatinkha Chidzanja did not only resign from the party but also tore apart and set ablaze MCP cloth in full view of journalists in an apparent demonstration of her anger towards Lazarus Chakwera. But as I have asked, where is Lazaro today?

So just summoning Nankhumwa mukati chipani chikutha? Mwatani kodi?

Even if Nankhumwa goes, new faces will emerge just like we saw it in MCP. Richard Chimwendo Banda, Eisenhower Mkaka and others came in the limelight courtesy of the very same squabbles that led to ejection of the so called political heavy weights. This, therefore, brings me to my earlier position: Early bickering in DPP dreadful but necessary: ‘feigned’ Tonse Alliance beware.

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