The ruling Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) Vice President responsible for southern region, Dr. George Thupatula Chaponda reportedly collapsed on Saturday when he was about to address delegates at the party’s national convention which gets underway at COMESA Hall in Blantyre on Sunday, July 1, 2018.
On the eve of the convention, some senior officials attended a preparatory meeting at the party’s regional offices in Blantyre where they canvassed for votes among the party’s southern region delegates.
Chaponda is running for the same position (VP, south) but faces stiff competition from Kondwani Nankhumwa, who is Minister of Local Government and Rural Development and DPP Member of Parliament (MP) for Mulanje Central constituency.
Other strong contenders for the VP position are ministers and MPs Henry Mussa and Joseph Mwanamveka.
One of the delegates who witnessed the dramatic ‘episode’ at the regional offices told Nyasa Times on Saturday that Nankhumwa enjoyed overwhelming support at the meeting against Chaponda and when the latter took to the podium to address the delegates, he was heavily booed at.
He (Chaponda) seemed to be completely confused and could not believe he was not as popular among the members as he may have always imagined.
“It was a sorry sight; the VP was clearly sweating profusely. Apparently, his blood pressure had heavily shot up. He collapsed as the boos grew louder,” said the delegate with a Lhomwe accent, who could not be identified.
He said it had to take some frantic first aid efforts by some members to ‘resuscitate’ the former agriculture minister and MP for Mulanje South-west. After about 20 minutes later, he gathered some momentum and still addressed the delegates.
The DPP VP position is turning out to be an epic contention at the convention, with contenders furiously campaigning to win it.
However, Nankhumwa is tipped to win. He faces stronger competition from Mussa whose present position has been apportioned to northern region.
Nankhumwa was at the meeting on Saturday. Conspicuously absent were Mussa and Mwanamveka.
However, other high-profile officials at the meeting were DPP Secretary General Gerselder Jeffrey wa Jeffrey who is vying for the same position and Ben Phiri who is vying for the position of Director of Elections. They have joined together in what they are calling ‘DPP Team A’.