Maybe you didn’t know; maybe the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) doesn’t know. From a distance, one would think the only battle which the DPP is currently fighting is the court battle over rigging accusations by Malawi Congress Party (MCP) and UTM. On closer quarters, however, the ruling party is fighting an even higher battle; more fierce and dangerous than any court battle(s). The DPP is currently jinxed with a scramble for the presidency of the party barely a month after being declared victorious in the May 21 tripartite elections.
President Arthur Peter Mutharika is serving his second and last term of office, and will not be on the ballot as presidential candidate for the DPP in 2024. This means DPP will have to identify a successor to him as president of the party and as torchbearer in the 2024 tripartite elections. This scenario has pushed the battle for the DPP presidency a notch higher with most of the party’s gurus beginning to position themselves for the top job, and from the way things are looking, it seems we will not have to wait any longer before the battle becomes full blown.
Already, we hear that former big man in the first United Democratic Front (UDF) government, who now appears to have been accepted in the upper echelons of the DPP, Brown James Mpinganjira or BJ, as he is popularly known in political circles, is leading a campaign to convince him (Mutharika) to anoint his young brother, who is also Chairman of FDH Bank and ESCOM, Thom Mpinganjira, to be President of DPP and to eventually become the party’s torchbearer in the 2024 tripartite elections. The reasons for this campaign are not immediately clear but it seems BJ thinks DPP would be better off with someone from the private sector as President. He thinks Thom Mpinganjira is that man.
Without necessarily focusing on the explicit reasons BJ is putting forward, or how President Mutharika has so far responded, it is important to have a comprehensive picture of the man who is actually leading that campaign. It will help the DPP and Malawians to have a critical perspective of the whole Thom Mpinganjira venture, and conclude whether it is noble or not. It must be noted that BJ is not a bona fide DPP man; he is new to DPP politics. He was just roped in not a long while ago, but it now appears he has drifted to become one of the influential individuals in the party and one with Mutharika’s ear. And that is where things start becoming dangerous.
If anyone wants to know who Brown Mpinganjira really is, they must ask former President and the first one in the multiparty era, Bakili Muluzi. Muluzi has on several occasions called Brown Mpinganjira a very bad man; a very big liar; and someone you cannot trust and make any agreement with. Muluzi said BJ always wants all good things for himself (including women). Based on Muluzi’s theory, Mpinganjira is probably using his new found proximity to APM to have something good for himself. He is most likely using the DPP vehicle to have his brother, Thom (Brown and Thom’s fathers were brothers) become president of this country.
To Bakili Muluzi and those people who know him, Brown Mpinganjira is merely trying to be the Brown James Mpinganjira like he once was. Remember BJ the big man and cabinet minister in the first Muluzi cabinet of 1994, when he was wielding so much political power even more than the President. As Minister of Information, Broadcasting, Posts and Telecommunications, BJ proved to be a tribalist of the worst kind who promoted nepotism and politics of patronage through and through.
During that time, MTL was still under government control and fell directly under his ministry. BJ filled all top positions at the organization with his cronies and people of Mulanje, his home area, and the Lhomwe belt regardless of qualification and competence to do the job. He always wanted to be praised and to be told things he wanted to hear. It could have been because of this power play that he fell out with Bakili Muluzi prior to the 2004 general elections over what was believed to be a presidential pact the two made.
BJ left the UDF and established his own National Democratic Alliance (NDA), which contested in the 2004 General Elections with him (BJ) as presidential candidate. He lost miserably; rejected by Malawians at the polls and attempted to go back to the UDF. By that time, however, newly elected President Bingu wa Mutharika was just getting in the groove and firmly consolidating his political power base; BJ had no chance. His comeback was in 2009 as running-mate to MCP’s John Tembo but lost miserably again to Bingu wa Mutharika to continue a sad and less than successful political trajectory, which drifted into a preaching hiatus.
This political trajectory reveals that BJ has presidential ambitions of his own, which are invariably still dangerously burning. Former President, Joyce Banda, is also one of the people who know BJ and his presidential ambitions comprehensively. She knew this when she fished BJ from his preaching hiatus (where he was preaching and attempted to establish a church) and took him in; into the People’s Party (PP) fold. BJ immediately attempted to become the party’s Southern Region Vice President, but was rejected by the people again at the party’s convention, which took place at the College of Medicine in Blantyre in 2012, this time losing to Muhammad Sidik Mia.
JB did not want BJ closer to the party’s central power echelons because she knew he would attempt to wrestle power from her in one way or the other. JB effectively put BJ on leash where he was ineffective until the last days of her reign when he was made Minister of Information because of the effects of CASHGATE pressure. JB only wanted to utilize BJ’s tongue-twisting and lying abilities to wade her way out of the CASHGATE fiasco that she was in, otherwise BJ would not have tasted any ministerial position under JB.
It may not be clear whether BJ is positioning his young brother to get the presidency for himself (you never know with BJ). What is clear, however, is that Brown Mpinganjira is on to something brutal, which may catch the DPP off guard. He is a cunning politician (APM should ask Bakili); he has always been cunning, it is in his DNA. The Thom Mpinganjira presidency will go a long way to assuage the political pain that he has endured over the years in trying to become Head of State of this Republic. Thom Mpinganjira will also probably be goaded to use his FDH Bank as a cash cow to power these ambitions but whatever happens DPP will be the victim.
BJ is like a cuckoo; a bird species which often lay their eggs in other bird’s nests, mostly crows. The cuckoo chicks then compete for food with the host’s own babies mostly with catastrophic results such as death of the host’s chicks. In this parasitic relationship, one species benefits in some way while another is harmed. DPP is the host in this relationship and it is just a matter of time before we begin to see how it has been harmed.Follow and Subscribe Nyasa TV :