The governing Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) presidential candidacy issue seems to be getting more complicated with claims that party secretary general Greselder Jeffrey wa Jeffrey and some members of the DPP’s National Executive Committee (NEC) who had a news conference in Lilongwe are also secretly propping up vice president Saulos Chilima to become DPP torchbearer in the May 2019 presidential elections and that President Peter Mutharika should retire at the end of his current five-year term.
Jeffrey has publicly endorsed Mutharika and Chilima as presidential candidate and running mate, respectively. At the official opening of this year’s tobacco selling season, presided over by Mutharika on Monday, April 9, 2018, Jeffrey denounced former First Lady Callista Mutharika for taking to the media to suggest that Chilima is a better presidential material than Mutharika.
Callista Mutharika, who was wife to president Mutharika’s late brother, Bingu wa Mutharika, recently claimed the DPP had higher chances of winning in the 2019 polls with ‘youthful’ Chilima as presidential candidate than fielding her ‘aging’ brother-in-law.
However, there is a new twist to the DPP presidential candidacy saga. A senior DPP politburo member claims that the Jeffrey’s public sentiments endorsing APM are a mere ‘smokescreen’ because she has secretly joined the Chilima candidacy ‘crusade’ and that she has been part of the movement meetings to pursue that agenda.
“There is irrefutable evidence that she favours Chilima too like Callista Mutharika and a minority portion of senior DPP membership that has openly backed the VP. The party leadership is studying the information and situation to ascertain appropriate action in the light of such serious double-dealing by the party’s CEO,” he told Nyasa Times in an interview on Friday, preferring anonymity.
He claimed Jeffrey is frustrated with the ‘Mutharika administration’ because of what she thinks could be deliberate machinations by some members of government to prevent her from getting K70 billion in compensation. Jeffrey dragged government to court to claim that amount for alleged false imprisonment, loss of business, defamation and malicious prosecution.
Jeffrey, a building contractor, was among several people that the Anti-Corruption Bureau (ACB) arrested in September 2000 for their alleged involvement in dubious awarding and receiving of multi-million Kwacha contracts for the construction of school blocks in the Ministry of Education. She was subsequently cleared of wrong-doing.
The source claimed that Jeffrey is not a true and faithful member of DPP but that she decided to join the party because she thought being in ‘government’, she could easily receive her compensation “without much contestation from government”.
“So, her thinking is that once Chilima rises to power, he may be ‘soft’ enough and facilitate payment of that money,” he claimed.
The source claimed that Jeffrey’s alleged preference of Chilima over APM was confirmed recently in Mzuzu where she presided over a DPP political induction course for northern region DPP shadow MPs. He claimed Jeffrey hardly mentioned the president’s name in her entire presentation.
“It was strange that she never made mention of the president despite that the induction course was in fact sanctioned by the Head of State to familiarize participants with the party’s policies with regard to elections. What was worse was that the president had donated K1.5 million for delegates’ allowances but the secretary general behaved as if it came from her pocket. She never acknowledged APM for the money,” he said.
He said instead of promoting APM at the forum, she persistently promoted minister of transport Jappie Mhango who wants to compete against minister of finance Goodall Gondwe for the position of DPP vice president for the north at the party’s national convention.
He claimed Jeffrey openly campaigned for Mhango for the DPP VP position, despising Gondwe as an “old and tired grandfather” who is unable to propel the party to greater heights in the north. Gondwe had also donated K1 million for the delegates but Jeffrey did not acknowledge the gesture either, he said.
“The worst thing that she did during the induction course was to incite DPP youth in the north to use violence against anyone who opposes or criticizes the DPP and its leadership. Many people felt that was against the spirit and ideologies of the DPP and a deliberate attempt to put the leadership in bad light,” he said.
Jeffrey will contest for the same SG position at the DPP national convention. But the senior member said Jeffrey was unlikely to succeed in her bid because “she is the most unpopular DPP secretary general ever”.
“She is foul-mouthed; she is claiming huge amount money from the same government she is supposed to serve when millions of Malawians are languishing in extreme poverty; and now she is backstabbing the president whom she has all along sworn to serve with utmost loyalty. Only time will tell,” he said, without elaboration.
DPP’s director of Field Operations, Ben Phiri has also endorsed an APM/SKC partnership for 2019 polls.
And intelligence sources says some members of the politburo who had a press conference in Lilongwe were reportedly in contact with Chilima assuring support for “age-matters” campaign.Follow and Subscribe Nyasa TV :