It never rains but pours for one Gerselder Jeffrey wa Jeffrey. The secretary general for the ruling Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) is never short of controversy; she is mostly in the limelight for wrong reasons.
Either, Jeffrey is suing her own government for an ‘obscene’ K70 billion for alleged wrongful arrest and loss of business about 18 years ago or she is ‘cursing’ people of northern region that considering their small population, there shall never emerge a Head of State from that region.
She is now at it again! On Saturday, May 5, 2018, a leaked phone conversation between her and local government minister, Kondwani Nankhumwa went viral on social media where the two politicians are discussing the current leadership stand-off in the DPP.
Two camps have emerged within the DPP, with one agitating for state vice president Saulos Klaus Chilima to take over leadership of the party and become the party’s torchbearer in the 2019 tripartite elections while the other camp insists incumbent President Professor Arthur Peter Mutharika would lead the party at the polls.
In their discussion, the two leaders attempt to seek answers to the growing impasse in the governing party, including suggesting who could be some of the ‘rotten apples’ propping up Chilima against the president.
In one instance, wa Jeffrey, whose voice is perfectly audible in the leaked audio compared to the other party, attacks the ‘intelligence apparatus’ for failing to ‘sniff’ that the Chilima camp has been “developing networks, underground, for a long time”.
“We deceive ourselves that we have intelligence; intelligence, my foot! Here we are now, these people have found it so easy to permeate through all structures of government,” she is heard informing cabinet minister Nankhumwa.
But a Salima-based social and political commentator, Dalitso Gome trashed Jeffrey’s accusations against ‘intelligence’, saying in the case of the National Intelligence Bureau (NIB) in Malawi, their mandate is not to interfere with political party affairs unless they are threat to national security.
“I wish to comment on the role of intelligence vis-à-vis the current leadership challenges within. I am not sure whether she was either referring to NIB or their own DPP intelligence apparatus if they have any. But if she was referring to NIB, then she got it all wrong,” said Gome in an interview with Nyasa Times on Sunday.
He said according to the proposed NIB law, among its roles and functions shall be “to gather, evaluate, correlate, interpret, investigate, disseminate and store information, whether inside or outside the Republic, for the purposes of detecting and identifying of threats to the security of the Republic; advising the President and Government of any threat or potential threat to the security of the Republic; taking steps to protect the security interests of the Republic whether social, military or economic; and supporting the prevention or detection of serious crime; among other”.
“NIB has no role to play in internal political parties affairs,” said Gome.
Gome observed the issues in the leaked audio were “normal political party gossip” between two senior party officials who had trust in each other. He said that, without interfering with their internal issues, the decision to record and leak the conversation was “morally wrong and a breach of trust and privacy”.
He said that he suspected that it was Jeffrey or someone in her company who recorded the phone conversation “for whatever motive”.
“Nankhumwa’s line is extremely inaudible; Jeffrey’s voice on the other side is very clear, which gives me clue that it was recorded from the side which sounds perfectly audible,” said Gome.
He said that such conduct has now become rampant among Malawians who seem to enjoy embarrassing each other on social media after.
“Just recently, a senior journalist had to endure untold embarrassment after being lured into gossip and backbiting against fellow journalist. We need to stop this moral decadence.
“In the recent case, how will fellow politicians trust her when she wants to talk to them? How many people has she recorded so far? Being a secretary general of the ruling party, it is obvious she speaks to the president almost on a daily basis, how safe is the president? It is scary,” said Gome.
He concluded that whichever side she is, Chilima or Mutharika, both camps shall never trust her because of her recent controversy.
Jeffrey has publicly advocated for a Mutharika and Chilima presidential ticket in 2019 but an unnamed senior DPP official recently told Nyasa Times that was just a ‘smokescreen’ as she was secretly lobbying for Chilima’s candidature.
However, Jeffery told Zodiak Broadcasting Station (ZBS) when asked about the matter, that she could not comment as she had not listened to the audio clip.
The leak came out after DPP cadets embarrassed President Mutharika at Parliament in Lilongwe on Friday, where they disrupted opening of the budget session and attacked their own members, legislators Noel Masangwi and Patricia Kaliati, allegedly for supporting Chilima’s presidential candidacy.
Catholic bishops, in their latest pastoral latter titled ‘A call for a new era’, appealed to political parties to embrace intra-party democracy.
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