Malawi: Things Falling Apart in DPP - Analysts

18 September 2020

Things are falling apart in the main opposition Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) as the centre is no longer holding with nasty fights over succession battle which is threatening to tear the party apart, commentators have warned the party to resolve its turmoil soon as it threatens to damage its prospects in the impending parliamentary by-elections in five constituencies and even its long-term viability.

Commentators were reacting to a letter from DPP leadership summoning to a disciplinary hearing vice-president responsible for the Southern Region Kondwani Nankhumwa, who is also leader of opposition in Parliament.

According to a letter signed by DPP disciplinary committee secretary Charles Chidongondo Mhango, the Mulanje Central legislator is charged with four counts of disciplinary breaches.

First, he is accused of undermining DPP president Peter Mutharika for allegedly imposing himself on the position of Leader of Opposition when Mutharika had appointed Mulanje South West legislator George Chaponda, with Nankhumwa as the party's chief whip.

Nankhumwa's second charge relates to alleged lies he told Mutharika that members of parliament would revolt if his position is no be reversed.

The third count, Nankhumwa is accused of failing to resolve and respond to queries about his education background while the fourth count pertains to his alleged meeting with former official hostess Mama Cecilia Tamanda Kadzamira and Malawi Congress Part (MCP) officials between August 1 and September 4.

However, commenting on the charges, governance commentator Makhumbo Munthali observed that there is lack of sincerity in the allegations.

Munthali pointed out that Nankhumwa has been serving in various ministerial positions since he left Malawi Broadcasting Corporation (MBC) to become legislator and be in front line politics.

He said DPP leadership from time of late Bingu wa Mutharika appointed him in numerous Cabinet positions and that if the party was sincere about his education qualification, he would not have been entrusted with such position including one time leader of government in Parliament.

The governance commentator said the alleged offences against Nankhumwa as raised by the party are likely being used as a scapegoat for the real issues about DPP's succession wrangles.

First it was the purported suspension of secretary general Grezelder Jeffrey for telling the media that DPP was planning a convention to identify a replacement for Mutharika as he had done his part.

It later transpired that Mutharika did not fire Jeffrey, but that he advised that she should not attend a meeting at his retirement home in Mangochi as he felt offended.

Political scientist Happy Kayuni, from University of Malawi's Chancellor College pointed out in press interview that Mutharika is not a leader that may assist in rebuilding the party.

"If a new leader is identified through a proper democratic process, Mutharika's role would be to demonstrate that he fully supports the new leadership. This will provide some legitimacy and acceptability that the new leadership may need in the party's rebuilding process," he said.

Kayuni said the idea of worshiping leaders, as if they will continue ruling forever, must stop and that a culture of healthy competition should thrive within political parties, which ultimately reduces factionalism.

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