Blantyre City East parliamentarian Noel Masangwi, who is also governing Democratic Progressive Party (DPP), director of special events, is the latest top party official to add voice in the ‘Hurricane Callista’ , siding with former first lady Callista Mutharika’s sentiments that President Peter Mutharika is being misled by “beasts of prey” who have surrounded him and failing to create a forum where issues such that Mutharika should not seek re-election in the 2019 general elections an pave the way for Vice-President Saulos Chilima can be “internally resolved” .
Masangwi, former regional governor for the South, said in a communication posted in DPP National Governing Council WhatsApp group which Nyasa Times has independent verified to be genuine, saying what is happening in DPP is “chaotic” as anyone can “just wake up” and hold a news conference to comment on sentiments by Callista—who is an in-law to the President and widow of DPP founding leader Bingu wa Mutharika— on the proposal to replace Mutharika with Chilima.
He said there is “a cacophony of voices” in DPP following Callista Mutharika’s sentiments that 79-year-old Mutharika is old and should retire and pave the way for youthful Vice-President Saulos Chilima, 45, as DPP’s presidential candidate in next year’s polls, saying it is hard to discern as to which message is which.
“The mixed messages are only confusing our members and making us look like we are leaderless with no proper direction,”wrote Masangwi, who confirmed to Nyasa Times the authenticity of the correspondence.
“There was a press conference by the so called senior members of the party, including the so called Regional Vice Presidents; another one by regional youths; another one by representative of women, another one by the northern region representatives. This is simply wrong. Unfortunately it is the people that are close to the President, the so called Advisors like Dr (George) Chaponda etc that are misleading our President,” pointed out Masangwi.
He said the party should not be waking up every day to be greeted by officials playing out in the newspapers on matters of the DPP constitution.
“Does that mean a whole big party like the DPP is failing to create a forum where these outstanding issues can be internally resolved?”
Masangwi also queried the DPP big wigs who addressed a news conference to declare President Mutharika the party torch bearer unopposed, as who gave them such mandate.
Last week, Chaponda flanked by Information Minister Nicholas Dausi and Presidential aide Francis Mphepo and other senior members in the Southern Region, said Mutharika is an automatic presidential candidate for 2019 and does not need delegates’ votes.
“The so called senior members said they conducted their press conference as representatives of NGC, I ask which NGC? Some of us are also members of DPP’s NGC but we were not consulted. In fact (Louis) Ngalande – who sided with Callista’s sentiments -can say he was speaking on behalf of NGC because he is also an NGC member. Now which NGC is which?”
He argued that Ngalande’s reasons that he went to the media because the party did not provide a forum where members can air out their concerns is “quite legitimate.”
He said the party top brass should asked the President to call for an NGC meeting where these matters can be deliberated as one family.
“The solution is not to call for a press conference to demonize Ngalande. These so called senior people are misleading the President. Are they the ones advising him not to call for an NGC meeting? What are they afraid of?
“As a lawyer, Dr Chaponda should have been the first person to accurately interpret the DPP constitution and provide guidance to our members about what it says regarding the holding of convention and presidential contests. It is a tragedy that he is the first one who is on the forefront misleading our members.”
Masangwi said when the voice of the people is suppressed for a long time, “it often comes in a fashion that others may not like, which is the case in our party right now.”
He confirmed what Ngalande said that DPP has never held any National Governing Council (NGC) meeting since 2013 because “the so called senior advisors are ill-advising the President.”
Wrote Masangwi: “They are selfish individuals who are ready to sacrifice the party at the altar of personal aggrandizements. They are afraid to tell the President the truth because their positions will be threatened. It is that simple in the DPP right now.”
Masangwi has also said Chaponda should also not have been speaking on matters of the DPP constitution because his very position is not provided for in the constitution.
“In fact many of those that are misleading the president today were merely appointed to their positions and not elected at any convention. This is the reason why some of us want to meet the President and explain to him properly about the concerns of the people in the party and explore the direction that we can take,” said Masangwi.
Speaking on behalf of concerned DPP members, Masangwi said they feel President Mutharika is a “reasoning and upright person” who has the best interest of the DPP at heart. “He is a good person but he has always been a victim of bad advice from a few misguided advisors. We do not want our President to be embarrassed by the turn of events in the DPP, and in the same vein we believe he cannot let the whole party to suffer because a few people have chosen to be blind. Our party is a big organization, and we must not let it to be reduced into a butt of jokes through the actions of a few selfish individuals.”
Masangwi said President Mutharika should be advised to call an NGC meeting “as a matter of urgency” where these issues should be resolved.
“Those people calling for the Chilima’s candidacy next year should not just be dismissed outright; they should also be given a fair hearing because they are bona-fide members with every right to be heard. The shadow-boxing that is currently raging through the party must not be allowed to go on at any cost. Time is certainly not on our side because we need to redirect our energies towards fighting a common enemy. The in-fighting is doing us more harm than good; we may just end up giving government to others on a silver platter,” argued Masangwi.
Apart from Callista, DPP parliamentarians, notably Bon Kalindo (Mulanje South) and Allan Ngumuya (Blantyre City South), are supporting the move to have Chilima as the party’s torchbearer in next year’s elections.