Friction between President Peter Mutharika and Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) members sympathetic to Vice-President Saulos Chilima have started to creep in the ruling party ahead of national convention in June with governance expert saying battle lines have now been drawn between Mutharika and Chilima Movement.
Governance expert Mankhumbo Munthali told Nyasa Times that there are clear indications that the two factions may not reconcile, and that Malawianx may as well forget the Mutharika-Chilima combination in the next election.
He was comment on developments on Thursday wgeb Mutharika used the official government podium in Blantyre Rural at the second ground-breaking ceremony for a 19-kilometre (km) stretch of the 62-km Lirangwe-Chingale-Machinga Road to brand the Chilima Movement a bunch of cowards and a stupid grouping.
While the Chilima Movement with DPP national director of women and Mulanje West legislator Patricia Kaliati as the key speaker, addressed a news conference at Golden Peacock Hotel in Lilongwe where they branded Mutharika as “a clueless leader” and nominated Chilima as a presidential candidate at the convention set for June at a yet-to-be-advised date.
“Mutharika’s verbose attack on Chilima movement as well as the movement’s dressing down of Mutharika in a statement read at a press conference by Honourable Patricia Kaliati clearly shows that the two factions may have constructively agreed to part ways,” Munthali observed.
He said the developments just coming few days after Mutharika and Chilima are reported to have met behind closed doors at Sanjika Palace in Blantyre on Monday’ can also give hints into the outcome of such a meeting, “ an outcome that may have been negative with each faction standing on its grounds to pursue Presidential aspirations of the party.”
Munthali said Mutharika use of foul-language against his political competitors is unfortunate development.
Mutharika warnec those canvassing for Chilima’s candidacy, saying he will trounce them and trim them to size.
“Ena amadandaula kuti akufuna convention, taitanitsa convention akuti akufuna akatenge chiletso ku khothi. Si zautsiru zimenezo? Ali ndi mantha! Akunjenjemera! Abwere ku convention ndipo tikawafinya! Tikawapondaponda! Tikawanyenyanyenya! [They demanded that we call a convention, now they want to get a court order to stop it. They are scared! Let them face me at the convention where I will give them a whitewash],” said Mutharika.
The governance expert said it was “unfortunate and insensitive”on the part of President Mutharika to denigrate the pro-Chilima movement simply because of exercising their freedom of choice and expression.
He said: “The use of such words like tiwanyenyanyenya, tiwapondaponda despite being used by the President in figurative ways to imply that he would defeat Chilima at the convention in an election- was uncalled for as such words have the potential to incite violence against the supporters of Chilima.
“Already, some pro-Mutharika DPP leaders and supporters recently threatened any pro-Chilima supporter or delegate against attending the convention as they would face reprisals. Now these pro-Mutharika supporters would misinterpret these Mutharika’s emotional words as implying that the President has authorised them to unleash terror at Chilima supporters. All this coupled by DPP bad history of terrorising political opponents, the President may have only created a non-conducive political environment for DPP to hold a convention- a hostile environment that would prevent pro-Chilima delegates to attend the convention for fear of their lives. As a leader the President must refrain from using such emotive and violence-inciting words especially as we approach 2019 Tripartite elections.”
Munthali said President Mutharika as a leader of the party must strive at all cost to create a conducive environment for a convention by condemning some party regional governers against preaching violence against those in support of Chilima while at the same time uttering words that would build the party.
“In fact, by now the President should have assured total protection and security to all delegates to attend the convention including those that support Chilima,” he said.
Blantyre City East member of Parliament (MP) and former DPP regional governor (South) Noel Masangwi, a member of the Chilima Movement, said by expressing ‘tikunyenyaninyenyani’ sentiments and calling the movement ‘stupid’ Mutharika has demonstrated a lack of tolerance and poor leadership.
But a public policy analyst Vilije Kamudoni Nyirenda told Nyasa Times that Chilima Movement apart from insulting the Head of State, they attempted to solicit undeserved sympathy from Malawians, portraying themselves as victims of some “imaginary political machinations” by the party following the announcement that DPP national convention has been slated for this June.
”They struggled to paint a picture of a staged DPP national convention where their preferred candidate Chilima would either be barred from contesting for the presidency of the party or that the process would be a sham to rubber stamp President Mutharika,” Nyirenda said.
Former first lady Callista Mutharika—widow of DPP founding president and the incumbent President’s elder brother, Bingu wa Mutharika—sparked the succession debate weeks ago when she said her in-law, 79, should pave the way for the comparatively younger Chilima, 45, widely seen as a hands-on and results-oriented leader as evidenced by the success of the Public Sector Reforms Programme he vibrantly led which has lost steam since it was moved from his office.Follow and Subscribe Nyasa TV :