It is about time that President Professor Arthur Peter Mutharika, who is also leader of the governing Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) weighs in, heavily, on the political catastrophe that DPP Secretary General Griselder Jeffrey wa Jeffrey is in order to avert a possible election disaster in 2019.
On Thursday, July 27, the President attempted to do that. But he needs to do more to win the hearts of the people, especially northerners.
APM, as the President is fondly referred to by his adorers, sent a clear message to Jeffrey wa Jeffrey that the northern region is part of this country and people and leaders who live and hail from that region deserve respect and recognition for their various roles in the country’s political, social and economic development.
At a rally in Mzimba, after he officially presided over the official commissioning of the Mzimba Integrated Water Supply Project, APM said that the northern region has hitherto produced important national leaders such as Levi Ziliro Mumba, the first president of the Nyasaland African Congress (NAC) in the pre-independence era; a state vice president; two chief justices; and such other important national leaders.
President Mutharika said that therefore, it is certain that one day, the northern region shall produce a Head of State, contrary to recent assertions by the DPP secretary general that northerners must wait until the second coming of Jesus Christ to witness the rise of a northerner onto the seat of the President in Malawi. Simply put, she declared (as if she were God) that there shall never be a President in Malawi from the north.
Jeffrey wa Jeffrey’s derogatory remarks were meant to disparage the people of northern region; a clear demonstration of her personal hatred for northerners. Until the President’s ‘clarification’ on Thursday, northerners were of the view that the secretary general’s declaration was the DPP’s ‘official’ position.
Now that the President has publicly disagreed with his secretary general, northerners and Malawians of goodwill shall have no choice but to hold Jeffrey wa Jeffrey personally accountable for her careless talk, which was intended to alienate northerners, politically or otherwise.
Malawians have no choice but to demand for her honourable resignation from her position as secretary general for her unwanted and divisive remarks against the people of northern region. But in a country where resignations are an uncommon occurrence, it is incumbent upon President Mutharika to mercilessly crack his whip against the secretary general who carelessly speaks in public with impunity.
Political party secretary generals are supposed to be the dignified and efficient part of a political party. In essence, they run the parties. It is therefore very important that the conduct of the DPP secretary general be properly and timely tamed to avert an impending crisis.
While every adult citizen has the right to hold a political position, some positions like that of the secretary general require someone of high calibre, intellectually sound and, indeed, experienced not in rumour mongering and gossip but in running a political party. These attributes are unfortunately heavily lacking in the DPP SG, effectively disqualifying her for the position. She is intellectually handicapped.
It is possible that the (dis) honourable lady used her verbal diarrhea to win the admiration of the President when she appointed SG to replace the Kudontoni but she is now fast becoming a liability for the party.
So far, the DPP SG has presented a dirty image of the party, effectively confirming the ‘nepotistic tendencies’ of the party as purported by some sections of the society. The point is that the current DPP secretary general is not up to the big task of administering the affairs of a political party, which include growing it to greater heights.
An effective secretary general should be able to harmonize different opinions, needs, views and expectations over trending issues. While it is an open secret that people from the north have complained of being sidelined in several aspects, it would have been her noble responsibility to correct this misconception. On the contrary, she has been going about praising the tyranny of the majority by constantly vilifying the minority.
Perhaps one would dare ask whether the ruling party has run out of proper human resource to run the affairs and further strengthen the party ahead of national polls in 2019. Obviously the answer is a big NO!
The DPP is endowed with so many able politicians with enviable academic qualifications and political experience. Hitherto, the DPP has been led by secretary generals and administrative secretaries who think before they speak. It is now about time for the party taps into the expertise and experience of these former DPP political gurus to bring back sanity into the Office of the Secretary General.
The DPP must borrow a leaf from other prominent political parties that have attached great importance to the Office of the Secretary General by appointing highly qualified individuals with unquestionable integrity.
The UDF has had high-calibre and intellectually-sound people such as secretary general like former diplomat Dr. Katenga Kaunda and Sam Mpasu; AFORD had Dr. Mekki Mtewa; and the Malawi Congress Party (MCP) had Gwanda Chakuamba and now Gustav Kaliwo; People’s Party (PP) once had academician Dr. Henry Chibwana and now Ibrahim Matola.
The position of secretary general is a walk of life in a political party. The secretary general sits in the national executive meetings to shape party policy; handles official communications of the party; and ensures that the party has accurate records, among other core responsibilities. You cannot entrust the affairs of a governing political party with a secondary school drop-out. It is simply unheard of!
The 2019 general elections promise to be a tough contest for all the major political players in Malawi. The DPP cannot therefore afford to maintain somebody who is clearly a liability in the position of secretary general.
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