Former president Peter Mutharika has said he need more time to assist in rebuilding the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) and ensure a smooth succession, saying the party was in tatters with its structures collapsed.
Mutharika – who lost the State Presidency to Lazarus Chakwera of Tonse Alliance in the June 2020 court-ordered fresh presidential election- is facing a succession crisis in DPP with senior members of the party calling ion him to call for a convention to elect new leadership.
But speaking at his beachside private retirement home in Mangochi – christened as Nyekhwe Palace – Mutharika said calls for an elective national convention are premature and could lead to further disintegration of the party that is fresh from a bruising defeat.
He said the party should first put structures in place before a convention.
“All our structures at area, zone, constituency and regional level have collapsed. We are rebuilding structures to have delegates to the convention,” said Mutharika who appeared relaxed while flanked by DPP spokesman Brown Mpinganjira.
“It’s not that am clinging to this job no, I am not,” stressed the 80-year-old Mutharika.
According to Mutharika, the party has set up the Functional Review Committee to review structures of the party and make recommendations to the National Governing Council (NGC).
He said the functional review committee which DPP vice-president (Eastern Region) Bright Msaka is heading will present its report on the party’s direction on October 31 and the leadership will meet to discuss it and matters relating to the convention.
“Once the NGC adopts the proposals, we will start with elections at those grassroots structures up to the region.
“Only then will we set a convention date to elect national leaders. I pledge to support whoever emerges as leader and ensure that he or she takes DPP back into government,” said Mutharika.
Mutharika said he will give support to the DPP candidate who will win in fair elections at the convention.
“But anyone who wants to take over the party in order to sell it somewhere else will not have my support,” said Mutharika.
DPP secretary general Gresedler Jeffrey said it is not true that party structures have collapsed but that Mutharika wants to plant in control freaks to manipulate delegates at the convention to support his handpicked successor.
Governance commentator Makhumbo Munthali told Nyasa Times that on internal party wrangles Mutharika “touched on the surface as did not address the real issues behind the wrangles.”
He said Mutharika “must refrain from being seen to taking sides” in the succession battle.
“The pledge to supporting the winning candidate at the convention is welcome. However, he needs to create a conducive and fair environment for all aspiring candidates and embrace all candidates,” advised Munthali.
Kondwani Nankhumwa, who has long been touted as one of the frontrunners to succeed Mutharika and is currently Leader of Opposition in Parliament, did not pick up his phone when called several times to comment.
DPP lost in the June 23 2020 Fresh Presidential Election to the nine-party Tonse Alliance led by MCP president Lazarus Chakwera who partnered Mutharika’s then estranged Vice-President Saulos Chilima of UTM Party on the presidential ticket.
Peter Mutharika took over the leadership of DPP after the death of his brother, Bingu wa Mutharika in April 2012, propelling the party to victory in the 2014 Tripartite Elections.Follow and Subscribe Nyasa TV :