Malawi’s governing Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) Director of Elections and Local Government and Rural Development Minister, Kondwani Nankhumwa, has refuted claims that he is championing the removal of former Agriculture Minister, Dr. George Chaponda, as DPP Vice President responsible for Southern Region.
Media reports indicate Chaponda is under pressure from some quarters within the DPP to relinquish his position or that President Peter Mutharika fires him because he is answering corruption-related charges in court.
Nankhumwa, who is also Leader of the House in Parliament and MP for Mulanje Central, is allegedly behind the machinations to remove Chaponda, who is also legislator for Mulanje South-west, according to the reports.
But in an interview with Nyasa Times on Saturday, Nankhumwa categorically denied any involvement in the alleged attempts to depose the VP.
“I have noted with great concern, disbelief and disappointment that some ill-intentioned individuals are circulating rumours to the effect that I am championing the alleged cause to remove our VP, South.
“I wish to categorically disassociate myself from such rumours. I wish to inform all Malawians that these rumours are a desperate ploy by some people who do not wish the DPP and its leadership well,” said the powerful minister, describing the rumours as “mere propaganda and fabrication by some quarters to score cheap political points”.
Nankhumwa emphasized that there has never been any “bad blood” between him and the party’s VP and that any suggestions to the contrary are “a figment of imagination of some people whose intentions are to sow seeds of discord and confusion within the DPP top leadership”.
“Indeed, Hon. Chaponda is answering criminal charges but I am well aware as much as the DPP is aware that Hon. Chaponda is innocent until proven guilty by a competent court of law. As a party, the DPP, let alone myself, shall never set up a Kangaroo Court to try Hon. Chaponda, find him guilty and convict him based on mere allegations. Hon. Chaponda has the right, as every citizen of this country does, to defend himself against any allegations and criminal charges,” he said.
He said he therefore considers “immensely offensive” insinuations and allegations that he is championing a crusade to oust Chaponda as the party’s VP in the South and that he should be banned from actively partaking in party activities.
“It has never ever occurred to me, at any material time, that fighting Hon. Chaponda or anyone else in the party would make me a better individual and successful politician. I am a Christian and believes in the commandment ‘love your neighbor as you love yourself’.
“Contrary to these allegations, Hon. Chaponda and I enjoy a cordial working relationship and that relationship shall not falter because of a few misguided individuals who are entirely preoccupied with spreading baseless rumours. We, in DPP, under the able leadership of His Excellency Professor Arthur Peter Mutharika, President of the Republic of Malawi, are well aware that there is strength in unity and that we shall gallantly fight any forces that are bent on sowing seeds of disunity and confusion amongst us,” he said.
PP spokesman Francis Kasaila told Nyasa Times in a separate interview that the DPP would not move in on Chaponda because it adheres to principles of natural justice where everyone is presumed innocent until proven guilty by a competent court law.
Chaponda is answering three corruption-related charges linked to the controversial procurement of maize from Zambia. A presidential commission of inquiry had found that Chaponda had abused his powers in the course of the procurement process and recommended he should be prosecuted.
Ironically, following the commission’s findings, President Mutharika removed Chaponda as Leader of Government Business in Parliament and replaced him with Nankhumwa.Follow and Subscribe Nyasa TV :