Malawi’s ruling Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) members are accusing its powerful director of elections and Minister of Local Government and Rural Development, Kondwani Nankhumwa, of sowing division in the party in his bid to oust former minister George Chaponda from his position of DPP vice-president (Southern Region).
There has been calls in DPP for President Peter Mutharika to drop Chaponda, former Minister of Agriculture, Irrigation and Water Development, as the party’s second-in command because he is answering three corruption-related charges linked to the controversial procurement of maize from Zambia.
But according to DPP sources, Nankhumwa is the one fanning such calls and wipping hatred against Chaponda within the rank and file of the DPP.
While Nankhumwa denies that, Chaponda believes “there is no smoke without fire.”
Nnakhumwa accuses Chaponda of being on a “mudslinging offensive”, to create false stories aimed at deliberately putting hi on a collision course with Mutharika to crowd the President’s mind with serious falsehood so that he starts looking at him in negative light.
He argues that Mutharika’s focus is to uplift the social status of Malawians through the provision of transformational leadership and the last thing that he needs is to be distracted from that “noble quest “ by “senseless in-fighting! within the DPP based on misplaced ambitions.
An epic leadership battle promises to ensue within DPP in 2018, with individuals strategically positioning themselves in readiness for the party’s national convention.
All national governing council (NGC) positions will be up for grabs, including that of party president, although it is a foregone conclusion- President Mutharika is likely to stay at the helm of the party, automatically winning the DPP presidential ticket when general elections are due in 2019.
Other positions, which are likely to be less scrambled for are those of ‘regional’ vice presidents, which sources say occupants are largely determined by President Mutharika. They reveal that Nankhumwa, who took over as Leader of Government in Parliament from Chaponda, is repositioning himself to replace Chaponda as DPP vice president for the South.
Chaponda is answering money laundering charges, among other counts, for his alleged involvement in the alleged fraudulent acquisition of state maize. He was also fired as Minister of Agriculture when it became apparent law-enforcing agencies were closing in on him.
Nankhumwa and Chaponda both are lawmakers from Mulanje but there has been cold political war amongst the two.
The Leader of the House strongly believes it is awkward for President Mutharika to have someone suspected of corruption deputising him
But Chaponda said his court cases on corruption-related charges remain a private matter to him and cannot be discussed.
DPP spokesman Francis Kasaila also said Chaponda need “presumption of innocence” and will be allowed to hold his position as second-in command in the ruling party.
However, commentators argue that though Chaponda remains innocent until proven guilty, in the court of public opinion, he may be looked at as the poster child of everything that is wrong with the ruling DPP
DPP secretary general Jeffrey wa Jeffrey refused to be drawn into “petty politics”, claiming she is too busy growing the DPP’s membership “to engage in useless political battles”.
Mzuzu-based political analyst Charles Kajoloweka, who has been one of the vocal citizens against Chaponda in the Zambia maize imports saga, said politically the corruption case against Chaponda “becomes an indelible stamp of corruption on the DPP as a party”.
The former minister, who is Mulanje South West member of Parliament (MP), denies any wrong doing.Follow and Subscribe Nyasa TV :