All is not well in the once mighty party, the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP). But what is the genesis of this quandary? Who should shoulder the blame?
There is a school of thought that DPP’s Southern region vice president and also leaders of opposition in Malawi Parliament Kondwani Nankhumwa is a troublemaker.
Others have a different opinion that DPP leader Peter Arthur Mutharika (APM) is supposed to relinquish his position as the president of the party and call for an early convention. It is believed that Prof. Peter Arthur Mutharika has no interest in standing again in 2025.
To make matters worse, it is also believed that the incumbent president of the party handpicked Dr. Dalitso Kabambe as his possible successor. But is this an anomaly in as far as succession plan in DPP is concerned?
Even Kondwani Nankhumwa can admit that Prof. Bingu wa Mutharika handpicked his brother, Peter, as his possible successor. And Kondwani Nankhumwa was in support of this arrangement.
Readers can recall how Hon. Chimunthu Banda was humiliated with meagre votes against Prof. Peter Mutharika at an elective convention. During that time, Hon. Kondwani Nankhumwa was supporting Prof. Peter Mutharika.
When Prof. Peter Mutharika ascended to power, he appeased Hon. Kondwani Nankhumwa by appointing him to various portfolios including Minister of Agriculture among others.
During the DPP regime, Hon. Kondwani Nankhumwa even became the Leader of the House in parliament.
All what I am saying is that Hon. Kondwani Nankhumwa was Prof. Peter Mutharika’s trusted boy. By virtue of appointing him to these crucial positions, Prof. Peter Mutharika was implicitly grooming this trusted lad.
All this was happening when Dr. Dalitso Kabambe was not actively involved in politics. In fact, he was a successful technocrat working as the Secretary to the Treasury and later as the Governor of the Reserve Bank of Malawi.
Perhaps there were no squabbles when Prof. Bingu wa Mutharika handpicked his brother because everyone knew that he was grooming his brother. Before this, Prof Peter Mutharika had served on many political portfolios vis a vis Member of Parliament, Advisor to President Bingu wa Mutharika on legal affairs, Minister of Justice and Minister of Education.
Dr. Dalitso Kabambe has not occupied any of such political positions. But does it require one to hold a political position before being endorsed as presidential candidate? Definitely no!!!
But I am just explaining the source of anger, hopelessness and disappointment by those who have held political positions in anticipation of a presidential candidature.
Was Prof. Peter Mutharika wrong when he endorsed Dr. Dalitso Kabambe having groomed many including Kondwani Nankhumwa? I don’t think. As the unwritten succession policy of the party, the outgoing president can endorse his successor who would then compete with other presidential aspirants at an elective convention.
In his assessment, Prof. Peter Mutharika might have found shortfalls in Kondwani Nankhumwa to competently compete with a strong candidate in the ruling Malawi Congress Party (MCP), possibly Reverend Dr. Lazarus Chakwera who is eligible to stand again according to the Malawi Constitution.
Readers can recall that Kondwani Nankhumwa has not cleared his name on the allegations of using Malawi School certificate of his deceased relative. He is also on record to have obtained his PhD from a diploma mill. What generation are we creating if a president can be roped in with such credentials?
Is Kondwani Nankhumwa wrong in challenging Prof. Peter Mutharika’s decision? No. Not at all. There is nothing wrong to disagree with others’ decisions. What matters is how you show your disappointment and disagreement.
It should be stated here that Kondwani Nankhumwa is a bona fide citizen of Malawi. He has the right to contest for any public office in the land of Malawi.
My view is that he could have concentrated on selling himself without undermining the leadership of the party. How could he formulate a shadow cabinet without consulting the president of DPP? It boggles my mind.
So what is the way forward to end the squabbles in DPP?
First, the leadership of DPP must ensure that the constitution of the party is followed. This implies that all office bearers elected at the previous convention must unite and work together as confirmed by the recent court ruling on the matter. This also means that Prof. Arthur Peter Mutharika is still the president of the party till 2023.
Second, Prof. Peter Mutharika in liaison with Secretary General must call for a re-conciliatory meeting to chart the way forward.
Third, when people scramble for such political positions, one workable solution is to feature a neutral aspirant. Prof. Peter Mutharika can still stand for the second term since the Constitution of Malawi empowers him to do so. Any law that contradicts the Constitution of Malawi becomes invalid.
This paves way to the last question. Does Prof. Peter Mutharika still stand a chance of winning if he chooses to contest again? Yes, the chance is there.
First, 2019 and 2020 presidential elections were statistically and significantly similar. This gives us evidence that 2019 presidential elections, which Professor Mutharika emerged a winner, were not rigged.
Second, unfulfilled promises by the Tonse alliance government and current high cost of living prompt the citizenry to appreciate that Peter Mutharika’s regime was pro-poor.
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