Prominent newspaper columnist Ephraim Munthali, who is also managing editor at Nation Publications Limited, says the opposition Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) spokesperson on finance and former Minister of Finance Joseph Mwanamvekha is demonstrating that he is a leader who wants to govern from the bottom up by getting what the grassroots people – through their representation – want in their communities.
Writing on his influential ‘Cut-the-Chaff’ column published in the Weekend Nation newspaper, Munthali noted that Mwanamvekha is introducing himself to DPP grassroots structures that are crucial in rebuilding the party and deciding who its next leader should be.
‘Mwanamvekha man to watch in DPP’, reads the title of his column, saying “ It looks to me that when Mwanamvekga finally came out to signal his interest in the DPP top leadership, he had a plan and is now executing it, apparently, to the letter. Particulary interesting is the listening tour Mwanamvekha has embarked on.”
However, the columnist pointed out that Mwanamvekha “certainly means business, shows he is strategic, demonstrates mature politics.”
But in its coverage of the DPP elective convention in the paper, political analysts observed that the trend so far in the party where all six people who have expressed interest to contest for the position of party president are from the Southern Region—with five of them from the Lhomwe belt— saying this could harm the party.
University of Malawi (Unima) Chancellor College-based political scientist Mustapha Hussein said in quotes reported by the paper that DPP should reflect upon this because it will eventually become a weakness on it as it will restrict its support base.
“So, as they prepare for the convention, the leadership needs to rethink and encourage contenders from other regions to join the race,” he said.
Another Unima political scientist Master Dicks Mfune said it was high time DPP followers and Malawians accepted the reality that the party has its biggest support base in the Lhomwe belt and is also largely controlled by people from this belt.
Mfune observed that as such the ethnic grouping is not ready to let the party go elsewhere.
He said: “As a result, this approach, if not swiftly corrected and deliberate strategies put in place, will greatly harm the popularity of the party. The numbers will start dwindling as people from other regions will ultimately withdraw their support on the basis that the leadership always comes from one area.
“For the sake of transformation they need to deliberately raise other people from other regions if they are to regain power and get back to government one day.”
The paper also quoted George Phiri, a political scientist from University of Livingstonia, who blamed DPP’s president Peter Mutharika for what he said was his failure to put in place a proper succession plan that has created the current problem.
He alleged that during the six years he was in power, Mutharika turned the party into an ethnic grouping, without regard to other merits and abilities of people from other regions and districts.
“Unfortunately, this is not only a problem for the DPP but many other political parties in Malawi. Unlike his brother Bingu, Peter did not have an agenda of nationalising the party. That is why we see dominance of contestants from one area—the Lhomwe belt—because that is what Peter preached,” alleged Phiri.
He also agreed with Mfune in his observation that the popularity of the DPP, including among its members, will decline if the current trend is not reversed because DPP will not be appreciated as a national party , but a regional bloc.
The six DPP members who have expressed interest to run for presidency are former Cabinet ministers Kondwani Nankhumwa, Joseph Mwanamvekha, George Chaponda, former central bank governor Dalitso Kabambe—all from the Lhomwe belt—another former Cabinet minister Bright Msaka from Machinga and Benedict Mbewe.Follow and Subscribe Nyasa TV :