19 April 2018

Malawi: DPP Declaration of Mutharika As Candidate Draws Political Analysts Anger

Photo: Cia Pak/UN Photo
Arthur Peter Mutharika, President of the Republic of Malawi, addresses the general debate of the General Assembly’s seventy-second session. (file photo).

The declaration by ruling Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) vice president George Chaponda that President Peter Mutharika will represent the party during the 2019 Tripartite Elections and those harbouring any presidential ambitions must wait for 2024 has drawn anger from some quarters, describing it as anti-democracy and a way of suffocating vice president Saulos Chilima.

Chaponda told a news conference that the DPP has endorsed Mutharika as its presidential candidate in the 2019 polls therefore there was no need to subject Mutharika to a vote during the convention.

"In fact, when we go to the convention, it is not that he [Mutharika] will be subjected to voting. Our democratic system allows that if he has gone for the first term which is five years and is medically fit, he can automatically go for the second term.

"Actually, he has been endorsed by the party members as such he will go automatically as our candidate in 2019... After all, it is his constitutional right to stand again," said Chaponda, a trained lawyer .

At the news conference Chaponda was accompanied by Mutharika's special adviser on political affairs and DPP administrative secretary Francis Mphepo, Minister of Information and Communications Technology Nicholas Dausi and DPP regional governor for the South Charles Mchacha, among others.

Chilima who is now currently in-charge in the absence of Mutharika, who is currently in the United Kingdom, has not said he wants to challenge his boss at the convention but a faction within the party is urging him to stand against Mutharika, saying the 79-year old president was aging.

However, political analyst from the University of Malawi, Mustafa Hussein said such statements by Chaponda tend to defeat the spirit of democracy.

"Why then do we have conventions? The DPP has the word 'democratic' on its name, they should practice the democracy. As a ruling party, they are expected to champion democratic spirit," said Hussein.

George Phiri, another political commentator from Livingstonia Synod said the DPP should allow the convention decide who the party presidential candidate would be.

"If the convention put the president on that position, it has also a right to remove him," said Phiri.

Another political commentator Humphrey Mvula told a radio talk show program on Tuesday that it is the people who surround the president who want the ageing leader to continue ruling fearing for their jobs if he stands down to pave way for Chilima.

Both Chilima and Mutharika are yet to comment on the DPP political whirlwind dubbed Hurricane Callista.

The DPP constitution stipulates that the convention shall elect all "office holders to various positions in the party" with no exception to automatic endorsement of the party president after serving the first term.

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