Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) is set to hold its elective convention few days from now in June where all national governing council (NGC) positions will be up for grabs, including that of party president, although it is a foregone conclusion- President Peter Mutharika is likely to stay at the helm of the party as its torchbearer for May 2019 Tripartite Elections and a fierce contest will be on positions of vice president, secretary general and other executive posts.
DPP secretary general Grezeldar Jeffrey said the exact date for the convention will be announced by the chairperson of the convention in due course.
Nyasa Times understands the convention has been penciled to take place by July 1 in Blantyre.
Positions that are likely to be scrambled for are those of ‘regional’ vice presidents, especially for the south where it has emerged three heavyweight candidates are aspiring.
DPP insiders reveal that Local Government Minister Kondwani Nankhumwa wants to replace Dr. George Chaponda as DPP vice president for the South while former presidential aide Ben Phiri is also in contention.
The scandal-hit Chaponda is still interested to defend his position.
All the three are cash-rich politicians wielding political power and well connected to President Mutharika.
Other two ‘favourite’ vice presidents are Goodall Gondwe for the North and Bright Msaka for the eastern region. The two are also likely going to sail through at the national convention without much ado.
But Dr. Heatherwick Ntaba for the central region is facing resistance as some want to challenge him including central region governor Bintony Kutsaira, former diplomat Reuben Ngwenya, nomadic politician Uladi Mussa among others.
Ntaba , however, is upbeat that Kutsaira can be damaged because he dumped the DPP in 2012 when it was rumoured Bingu wa Mutharika had passed away “even before government had made an official announcement”.
The vice presidency in the DPP is more of a ceremonial position than influential. But with the succession battle, as Mutharika will be going to his mandatory last term in office, the post of VP will be crucial.
What will be most exciting will the battle for the position of secretary general. This is the most influential and powerful position in the DPP as it is in most of the major political parties.
Incumbent DPP secretary general Greselder Jeffrey wa Jeffrey is likely to face stiff competition from former DPP administrative secretary, Clement Mwale; former DPP secretary general and Speaker of National Assembly, Chimunthu Banda.
Mwale is holder of Bachelor’s Degree in Public Administration from Chancellor College and Master’s Degree in Business Administration from Pebbles University in USA. He is currently studying for a PhD in Business Administration.
“He served as an administrator at the DPP national headquarters during the late President Bingu wa Mutharika’s time. He was the custodian of all party data and operation at policy levels on a daily basis. At the time when DPP was in ‘wilderness’, he was the administrative secretary,” said the source.
On the other hand, Chimunthu Banda is also well educated with good political history and stability. He once served as secretary general of the DPP before he became Speaker of Parliament.
She said while Chimunthu Banda has a glittering political career, he is loathed within the DPP for allegedly conniving with former President Joyce Banda and her PP administration to prevent Peter Mutharika from becoming Leader of Opposition in Parliament.
“Chimunthu Banda competed against Mutharika at the DPP national convention in 2013 and lost. Full of bitterness, he announced that he retired from active politics. DPP membership would be at pains to elect someone who is retiring from retirement; who obviously still holds grudges against some sections of the party following his convention loss,” she opined.
The convention announcement also comes amid divisions in the governing party as some have openly opposed the candidature of incumbent President Mutharika at the convention and opted for the automatic takeover of vice president Saulos Chilima as the party’s torch bearer in next year’s elections while another section wants Mutharika to continue at the helm.
The Mutharika camp has through the media threatened to block the Chilima camp from attending the convention.
The set convention will be the third this year after that of the Malawi Congress Party (MCP) and the Alliance for Democracy (AFORD) which were marred by conflicts. The United Democratic Party (UDF) and the People’s Party (PP) are yet to announce dates for their conventions.Follow and Subscribe Nyasa TV :