HRDC bemoans weak Opposition as the DPP is embroiled in internal leadership wrangles
Human Rights Defenders Coalition (HRDC) contends that the internal leadership stand-off in the high echelons of the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) is collapsing its role as the main Opposition of the government.
A statement issued today, June 23 by national chairperson, Gift Trapence and his executive committee, says the DPP is being torn apart by internal fights — rendering it too ineffective to provide the necessary checks and balances as well as offer alternative policy options to Tonse Administration’s handling of national issues.
The United Democratic Front (UDF) has also not been spared, saying it has “folded into a briefcase with little or no influence on the country’s national affairs”.
“In this regard, HRDC calls on Malawians to be vigilant in order to ensure that Tonse government lives to people’s expectations in fulfilling its electoral promises.”
Several attempts have been made by the DPP President, Arthur Peter Mutharika to reconcile leadership differences rocking the party, which has its vice-president for the Southern Region, Kondwani Nankhumwa at the centre of it all.
While some members of the DPP are touting Mutharika to contest for the DPP presidency and run for the state presidency, saying he was eligible having only served one term, Nankhumwa is on the ground to try and unseat him at the next DPP convention.
There are also other party presidency aspirants that include gurus like former Cabinet Minister Joseph Mwanamveka; former Reserve Bank of Malawi Governor, Dalitso Kabambe; Bright Msaka; Paul Gadama and David Mbewe.
At a political rally organised by the DPP’s Central Region executive committee in April — dubbed ‘Blue Saturday @ Mgona’ — the party’s vice-president for the centre, Zelia Chikale emphasized that APM has the constitutional right to stand again as the Head of State.
While assuring that it is up to APM to decide whether he wants to contest again, Chakale asked the huge gathering of DPP members if it was their wish for the former President to rule again — to which she received a resounding vote of confirmation.
She went on to say that anyone wishing to contest for the 2025 presidential race should quit the DPP and form their own party or contest for the party presidency during the DPP’s convention — at which APM will express his intention to retain the leadership.
The DPP’s Regional Governor for the South, Charles Mchacha — who is Member of Parliament for Thyolo West and has in recent weeks made same calls that APM will stand again as Party president as well as contest for the country’s presidency in 2025 race — also reiterated his stand as a vote of confidence from the Southern Region and the rest of the country’s DPP membership.
He had concurred with Chakale that those wishing to contest for the country’s presidency in 2025 race, should quit the DPP and form their own party or to contest against APM for the Party presidency during DPP’s convention.
Chisale’s rally was preceded by that held by the beleaguered DPP vice-president, Nankhumwa which was also organised at the same Mgona venue.
Nankhumwa’s leadership feud with APM has stretched since 2020 that started when his party president tried to strip him of his position as Leader of Opposition — a decision which he challenged in Parliament and was later fired from the party together with fellow renegades — treasurer general, Jappie Mhango; secretary-general Gelzeder Jeffrey and MP for Mulanje West Yusuf Nthenda.
The four challenged the dismissal in court and were later reinstated but the feud still remains — thus HRDC bemoaning that this internal political party impasse that is being deemed to slowly shaking the foundations of the main Opposition party.
The HRDC highlighted several maladministration on the part of the ruling Tonse Alliance, that include mismanagement of the economy; indecisiveness and slow decision-making and “the stench of evil twins of corruption and fraud are still largely responsible for Malawi’s retarded development”.
HRDC also touched on nepotism, saying the reason why Malawians voted the DPP out of government “was mainly because of the party’s arrogance and nepotistic tendencies”.
“However, we have noted, with great distress, the entrenchment of the same culture in the Tonse Alliance Government. For example, public appointments are highly skewed towards the Tonse’s political base of the Central Region at the expense of those who come from Southern and Northern Regions.
“We also condemn the tendency of rewarding friends, relatives and party cadres with positions that are not being competed for without giving a fair chance to other fellow citizens who are better qualified for the job. This practice must stop as it is discriminatory and denies Malawians equal opportunity for employment.
On what HRDC termed as “shrinking civic space”, the fierce civil society organisation says “it is quite unfortunate that we seem to have a government that takes pleasure in passing laws that restrict people’s freedoms”.
“Last year, we saw the President assenting to the Labour Relations Amendment Bill, which restricts the freedom of workers to hold strikes. This year, we have seen the President assenting to the controversial NGO Amendment Bill, which violates a number of fundamental rights, including the constitutionally-guaranteed right to freedom of association.
“What is particularly concerning in all this is the way the President has consistently ignored legitimate concerns and gone ahead to assent to such bad laws.
“During the two years of the Tonse administration, we have also seen increased arrests of online users and independent journalists for exercising their right to freedom of expression.”
In conclusion, HRDC calls on the Tonse Alliance Government “not to take Malawians for granted” and that it should “rather walk the talk on their electoral promises”.
“The government needs to start doing things the right way by getting rid of dead wood within its ranks and file which is stifling progress. The President must reshuffle his team and bring people who are capable rather than roping in friends and cronies that have self-interests rather than that of the country.
“We call upon the Administration to listen to the cries of its citizens who are heavily burdened by poor economic policies that are directly resulting in the rising cost of living.”Follow and Subscribe Nyasa TV :