Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) has been plunged into chaos after deep splits emerged on Sunday with party president Peter Mutharika and his vice president (South) Kondwani Nankhumwa holding separate party functions.
Mutharika, the country’s immediate past president, hosted some members of parliament of DPP at his beachside private retirement ‘Nyekhwe Palace’ in Mangochi and not perturbed by attempts by some DPP officials to remove him as party Vice President and Leader of Opposition in Parliament, Nankhumwa addressed a mammoth political party at Dessert Ground in Bangwe, Blantyre.
Last Friday, the party’s central committee that comprises a few selected senior officials announced the party had expelled Nankhumwa and three others from the party.
The announcement said Nankhumwa had therefore ceased to be Vice President for the South and Leader of Opposition in Parliament.
However, Nankhumwa, DPP Secretary General Grezelder Jeffrey, MPs Yusuf Nthenda and Jappie Mhango (also DPP Treasurer General) obtained a court injunction stopping the party from actualizing the expulsions and reinstated the four in their positions, arguing the process was not procedural.
Nankhumwa was accompanied to the Bangwe rally by DPP Secretary General Gresdler Jeffrey, legislators who included Ralph Jooma (Mongochi-Monkeybay), Getrude Nankhumwa (Blantyre-Kabula), George Milliyoni (Phalombe Central), Francis Phiso (Blantyre North), Mark Botomani (Zomba Chisi), Sameer Suleman (Blantyre City South East) and Yusuf Mthenda of Mulanje.
In Mangochi, Mutharika had at least 50 MPs – among them those that are in Nankhumwa camp. Others who attended Mangochi meeting included vice-president (East) Bright Msaka, DPP spokesman Brown Mpinganjira and DPP Chef Whip in Parliament Symon Vuwa Kaunda.
Addressing thousands of people in Blantyre, Nankhumwa encouraged members of the party to remain united to ensure that the party returns to power at the next general elections.
“There are some differences in our party at the moment over positions and other reasons that I cannot explain.
“However, it must be noted that the chaos is being brought about by a few individuals for their own personal interests; individuals who do not love the party; who have forgotten that DPP is a very big institution and that it belongs to you the people and not them,” said the Leader of Opposition.
He said these people are misleading Mutharika into making decisions that would break the party instead of uniting it.
“I was surprised when I heard rumours that Joseph Mwanamvekha [had] replaced me as the party’s vice president for the South.
“I want to appeal to these people to desist from taking that destructive path. They must begin to think beyond personal enclaves and remember the values and principles upon which the DPP was founded. Let’s avoid gossip.
“It is the duty of everybody in the DPP to ensure that we work together for the sake of unity and victory at the next elections,” he said in his 35-minutes speech which was punctuated by praise ad worship songs including “Tizazindikila patsogolo”.
He noted that political parties suffer turbulence during transition time, especially after losing elections.
“DPP is also going through that process. I would, therefore, want to appeal to all of you to stay calm whilst we manage this process,” he said.
Reacting to rumours that he is contemplating joining Malawi Congress Party (MCP) or UTM Party, or that he may form his own party, Nankhumwa affirmed his loyalty to the DPP, saying since he became the party’s parliamentarian for Mulanje Central in 2009, he has remained loyal to the party and its leadership.
“Despite my young age, the late President Bingu wa Mutharika appointed me as Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs. When Bingu died and Peter Mutharika became President in 2014, he too appointed me to various cabinet positions. He also appointed me Leader of the House in Parliament.
“I wish to express my gratitude to both Presidents for the honour bestowed on me,” said Nankhumwa, who served as Minister of Information, Local Government and Rural Development, Agriculture and Foreign Affairs under Peter Mutharika.
Nankhumwa said he is not going anywhere because he was elected at national convention as VP for the South.
“Let me assure you that I am still Vice President of the party in the southern region. Let us all go on the ground; to our areas, constituencies, districts and region to remind our friends that DPP is our party and that it is still intact,” he said.
He thanked the people of Bangwe for showing unwavering support and voting for DPP presidential candidate Mutharika in large numbers during the June 23, 2020 fresh presidential election.
“On behalf of APM (Mutharika) and the DPP, I wish to thank for your love for the party and APM. This is exactly the spirit that we need to sustain so that we take back power in the next general elections,” said Nankhumwa.
In their speeches, the MPs who attended the rally pledged solidarity for Nankhumwa, arguing no-one is empowered to fire him or any other elected member of the party except for the national convention where the ‘owners’ of the party, the people elect office-bearers.
On her part, Jeffrey said in her capacity as DPP secretary general, she will call for a party convention to elect new party leadership and start preparing for the next general elections.
“I have not endorsed any candidate. What I am saying as SG , professor Arthur Peter Mutharika will not contest again and we should go for an early convention,” she said.
During the rally, some speakers addressed Nankhumwa as the DPP presidential candidate 2025.
Peter Mutharika inherited the leadership of DPP after the death of his brother, Bingu wa Mutharika, in April 2012, propelling the party to victory in 2014 Tripartite Elections with the help of Vice President Saulos Chilima- who later was expelled from the party.
Mutharika lost power in June to President Lazarus Chakwera who made common cause with Chilima of UTM Party, running for election together as the Tonse Alliance to ensure the opposition vote was not split.Follow and Subscribe Nyasa TV :