DPP won’t gun for Leader of Opposition

Indications so far are that the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP), smarting from a change in fortunes, may let Malawi Congress Party president John Tembo stay on as leader of opposition in a bid to avoid denting its fragile image by starting a petty fight.

But in an interview on Sunday DPP Acting President Peter Mutharika said the party’s position on the matter will be made public next week after the party’s politburo meets to, among others, decide on whether to wrestle power from John Tembo as leader of opposition or let him proceed in that position.

“We have not yet sat down to discuss the issue but we will meet very soon after this mourning period. We will definitely discuss to chat the way forward on the issue,” said Mutharika.

Peter Mutharika: Tembo should remain opposiiton chief

However, one senior party official told Daily Times newspaper that the party will let Tembo be the leader of the opposition following their internal consultations.

The official said the party does not want to find itself at the centre of controversies that can damage its reputation ahead of the 2014 Presidential and Parliamentary Elections.

“As a party, the view of the majority is that Tembo should remain leader of the opposition because we don’t want to be pre-occupied with petty politics. All the chameleons are out of the party. We have remained with genuine MPs, genuine party leaders and genuine members, our focus will be to correct our mistakes, rebrand the party, strengthen it so that it can pull a surprise during 2014 general elections,” he said.

The official said some of the leaders who have ditched the party are liabilities and not assets.

“In terms of defectors, we have just lost about five MPs who were assets to our party but most of them were liabilities and they are likely to lose during the forthcoming elections. Actually, their voluntary defection are a blessing in disguise because they will enable the ruling DPP to identify strong suitable candidate in their constituencies,” he said.

The official’s statement is almost in tandem with what DPP first president Goodall Gondwe said recently that the party would be a ‘loyal opposition’ which will refrain from destructive politics.

“The DPP has been pushed to the opposition and it will play the role of the loyal opposition which will not seek to destroy good things,” he said.

The former ruling party has been pushed to the opposition benches in the 193-strong House following the sudden death of President Bingu wa Mutharika on April 5 of cardiac arrest.

However, his young brother, Peter Mutharika, could not say whether he is interested in the job as leader of opposition in parliament following his sacking as a cabinet minister in the Joyce Banda administration.

Tembo is leader of opposition after the MCP emerged second during the 2009 parliamentary elections but his party says the veteran politician cannot relinquish his position.

In an interview earlier, the MCP spokesperson Nancy Tembo said Peter Mutharika cannot become leader of opposition overnight because the law is very clear that the opposition leadership in Parliament goes to a party that comes second during a general election.

Most DPP legislators have said they would now work with the current administration in Parliament while others have openly said they have joined People’s Party, a party formed by President Joyce Banda after she was fired from the DPP.

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