A settled consensus has emerged from political and governance analysts that the erstwhile governing Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) which continues to face a string of resignations, squabbles and convictions is due to failure by its leader Peter Mutharika to bring about inspiration since losing elections in June this year.
In quotes reported by Weekend Nation newspaper, Ernest Thindwa, a political scientist from Chancellor College, a constituent college of the University of Malawi (Unima), observed things were falling apart in DPP because Mutharika is not the best for the party.
He said: “Mutharika epitomises several attributes of a failed leader which the DPP does not need at the moment. So the faster they get rid of him and put in a person who can rebrand the party and sell it to Malawians, the better. Otherwise not many Malawians will buy the DPP brand because they know what will likely come out of him.”
Thindwa proposed the party needed to identify a person who could symbolise its change to start winning back people’s confidence.
He also said loss of patronage resources by virtue of losing the June 23 court sanctioned presidential election has also affected the DPP as the development meant the party also lost access to public resources which they used to buy loyalty.
“Now with that patronage resource denied people no longer have incentive to remain loyal and conform to leadership dictates,” said Thindwa.
The political scientist further noted that lack of a democratic culture has weakened the party to deal with competition for leadership position.
“Had the party been democratic the contest for leadership position would have been managed without disruption, therefore, they lack capacity to manage competition or the leadership issue within,” Thindwa said.
Another Chancellor College political scientist Mustapha Hussein is also quoted by the paper saying DPP is still clinging on to a unilateral approach because of the ownership issue.
Hussein said there was need to allow democracy to flourish and resolve the leadership wrangle in the party through an urgent convention.
“Perhaps, the party may also consider taking a radical approach and start thinking of merging with the United Democratic Front to become one party and make the opposition strong,” he said.
University of Livingstonia political scientist George Phiri also concurred with Thindwa and Hussein, saying the developments in DPP was “a clear manifestation of Mutharika’s failed leadership.”
“It seems Peter has his own egos which he fails to manage as a result he has now seen that he has lost leadership of the party and he has also lost the party because if fellow leaders are leaving it means the party is dead. There is no way a party can exist without the leaders,” he said as quoted by the newspaper .
Phiri said Mutharika needed to appreciate why people want a convention otherwise it was “quite embarrassing for him to be calling himself a leader when people are running away from him while others are rising up against him.”
“The DPP is currently dead. The brand cannot sell well on the market because there are several issues that, as a country, people have lost their hope in the DPP. If I were Mutharika I would have immediately called for a convention,” Phiri said.
Last week, Mutharika told reporters from his beachside retirement home in Mangochi that he was not clinging to the position of party president but wanted a proper transition so that no one hijacks the party.
Mutharika argued the Functional Review Committee, headed by DPP vice-president (Eastern Region) Bright Msaka, would settle the disputes once it comes up with its recommendations set to be presented this Saturday October 31.
On quotes reported about governance commentator Makhumbo Munthali, he queried the setting up of the Functional Review Committee describing it as a “red flag on a tacitly calculated move to bar some potential stronger candidates from standing.”
Munthali is quoted:“If this is the path DPP will take, then we should expect even more and deeper divisions and frustrations from their supporters who may be denied the chance to choose a leader of their heart to replace Mutharika through a credible, fair and transparent convention.’’
He said: “The only way DPP can remain relevant is by allowing intra-party democracy to thrive when handling the succession issue. It’s important that the will of the DPP supporters not a few political leaders’ self-interests, should reign supreme.
“Otherwise, with the current bad state of DPP coupled by the continued enjoyment of public support by the Tonse government, DPP might be on the verge of oblivion following the path of UDF and Alliance for Democracy.”Follow and Subscribe Nyasa TV :