The erstwhile ruling Democrattic Progressive Party (DPP) is headed for doom after losing the court-sanctioned Fresh Presidential Election on June 23, with its leader the country’s immediate-past president Peter Mutharika becoming undemocratic in the succession process, political commentators have said.
A governance expert as well as University of Malawi political commentataors based at Chancellor College-in Zomba, Ernest Thindwa and Mustaph Hussein, have described the sudden turn of events where Mutharika has fired secretary general Grezelder Jeffrey from her position and reportedly told her not to attend a planned national governing council (NGC) meeting at his private residence in Mangochi on Thursday and the resignation by Thyolo Central legislator Ben Malunga Phiri from the position of director of electionsas a clear sign that there is weak intra-party democracy systems in the party.
Political scientist Thindwa, speaking in a telephone interview with Nyasa Times, warned that should the succession be mismanaged, DPP could be heading for extinction.
He urged the immediate former governing party to consider changing leaders or risk dying a natural death just like Alliance for Democracy.
“The truth of the matter is that there is a leadership crisis in DPP, which, unfortunately, some are deliberately ignoring to resolve. And this is what killed parties like UDF and Aford. So, if DPP is to survive, it has to change leadership because people no longer trust Peter Mutharika for presiding over the most corrupt administration in Malawi as well as the whole African region,” challenged Thindwa.
He added that Mutharika’s advancing age – 80 years – is another disadvantage of the party, stressing that the former President cannot continue to call shots among the youthful and capable people in the party.
“The bottom-line is that the glue that held DPP together has now melted. And following its ouster from government, where it used to enjoy government resources, the party now does not have the resources to use in commanding patronage from supporters. There are no more incentives for those following it; hence, if the leadership does not address the leadership crisis now, it is headed for its natural death,” he warned.
On the other hand, Hussein said what s happening in the former ruling party shows there are huge divisions and many factions.
He also observed that there is a power struggle in the party.
However, Hussein warned Mutharika against taking unilateral decisions by firing duly elected office-bearers from their positions.
“What Mutharika has done by firing the party’s Secretary General Greselder Jeffrey without calling for a convention or a process where such issues are supposed to be dealt with shows the party has not moved from being owned by an individual. I think it is high time our political parties moved away from being owned by individuals,” Hussein says.
Governance expert and commentator Makhumbo Munthali told Nyasa Times: “It is a tip of the iceberg when you look at how the DPP seems to be struggling currently with the transitition following the loss that they had in the elections.
“It also shows that the party is still being controlled by a few individuals…. there seems to be a small inner circle in the party that is making decisions on successions and that particular inner circle is being controlled by Mutharika.”
Jeffrey ruffled the feather of Mutharika—who led the party back into government in May 2014 after two years in opposition following the death of its founding president Bingu wa Mutharika— for saying he had done his part and DPP needs a new person to lead it into the future.
Her sentiments came days after DPP regional governor for the North Christopher Mzomera Ngwira admitted that some sections of the party membership were calling for Mutharika’s replacement to start rebuilding the party after its loss.
Former president Mutharika lost the June 23 Fresh Presidential Election to Chakwera who partnered Mutharika’s then estranged Vice-President Saulos Chilima of UTM Party on the presidential ticket. The winning pair amassed 58 percent of the vote.
DPP was founded as a bastard party in February 2005 by Bingu wa Mutharika after he unceremoniously ditched the United Democratic Front (UDF), the party that sponsored his presidential ticket in May 2004 after then president Bakili Muluzi handpicked him into the post.Follow and Subscribe Nyasa TV :