Following an election defeat in Mchinji West constituency and two wards coupled with not-so-convincing wins in two other wards in the just ended by-elections, ruling Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) diehards are calling for the return of the party’s master planner Ben Phiri to the core of the party’s strategy team.
Nyasa Times understands that Phiri was not involved in the recent by-elections camapihn p due to personal commitments but his absence has been noticed in the wake of the dismal performance.
Phiri, former presidential aide and President Peter Mutharika’s trusted blue eyed boy resigned from his powerful position at State House to focus on building his business empire.
He is currently the Executive Chairman of Beata Holdings.
Some senior party sources Nyasa Times talked to colloborated that Phiri was asked by party hierachy to deputise vice president Saulosi Chilima as chairman of the campaign team for the by elections but he turned down the offer citing personal commitments.
“There are many reasons to attribute to the party’s dismal performance but major contributing factor is that Ben Phiri refused to take part in the entire process. We offered him deputy chairmanship of the campaign he refused. Since leaving State House in 2015 he has been very distant from party affairs. Mind you this is the guy who was the hub of DPP’s 2014 campaign strategy that saw us defeating Joyce Banda and her peoples party,” confided a senior party official.
DPP regional governor for south, Charles Mchacha and secretary general Ecklen Kudontoni both confirmed that Phiri is “a key strategist” for the party and they would want him to take active role.
The ruling party failed to maintain its Lilongwe Kaliyeka Ward which has been lost to opposition MCP.and further lost in Mchinji West Constituency and Bembeke Ward in Dedza to the same MCP in the by-elections.
The party has only managed to maintain Kasungu Bunda Ward and Zomba Sadzi which belonged to an independent councillor.
The calls for Phiri’s return have come because whenever his services were availed to electoral cause in the past, the party emerged victorious.
Prior to the 2014 polls, BP, as he is popularly known, was appointed by Professor Mutharika as DPP’s Field Marshal, a role he used to consolidate and mobilize votes across the country through management of resources and strategy.
With his tact on the ground DPP managed to unseat Joyce Banda’s Peoples Party and returned to government after a two-year sojourn in opposition.
Subsequent by-elections were also faced with same winnable strategies up until now when for the first time the DPP has faced a major setback at the polls.
DPP Spokesperson Francis Kasaila said the party looks at its performance in the by-elections positively arguing it went into the by-elections with two wards and has come out of the by-elections with two wards also.
He said the numbers the Mchinji candidate got were more than those on the previous election meaning that the party is gaining ground and that it “will definitely do well in the coming elections in 2019”.
Political analyst from the University of Malawi’s Chancellor College, Boniface Dulani, has warned the DPP against taking people for granted.
Dulani said in the press that politics in Malawi is taking right direction because the electorate have demonstrated that despite being promised things or given things, they still vote according to their conscience.
“If I were in DPP, I would use the results to rethink whether the party is in tune with what people are thinking,” Dulani said adding that the use of handouts to woo people is now becoming ineffective starting from 2014 elections.Follow and Subscribe Nyasa TV :