Scenes of jubilation erupted at Comesa Hall in Blantyre when the announcement was made that the governing Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) convention had elected Minister of Local Government and Rural Development Kondwani Nankhumwa as party vice-president for the South.
Nankhumwa, who is also Mulanje Central legislator and Leader of the Government Business in Parliament, overcame the challenge from fellow Cabinet ministers Joseph Mwanamvekha (Agriculture, Irrigation and Water Development) and Henry Mussa (Trade, Industry and Tourism).
He amassed 774 votes against 401 for Mussa and 407 for Mwanamvekha.
Nankhumwa takes over the position which was occupied by former minister George Chaponda who withdrew from the race.
Chaponda withdrew from the race after it became too apparent that Nankhumwa would carry the day as the mention of his nomination by convention chairperson Nicholas Dausi was welcomed with thunderous applause from a majority of the 1 600 delegates.
He said after taking a huge amount of thought, he decided to “ step back and allow other people to take leading roles and I take an advisory role in the party, especially at a time when we are being confronted by challenges which we are addressing.”
Ecstatic youth, women and DPP members of Parliament sang and danced in jubilation at the convention hall.
“I have been praying. I’m happy that we now have a youthful vice president from the south. We hope that Nankhumwa can help to strengthen the party,” said one of the delegate.
Nankhumwa said he would work towards ensuring that DPP remains in government next year.
He will safe steep challenge to unify party in its stronghold Southern region, inheriting a party bitterly divided by a leadership election, insider fighting and corruption allegations.
The country is expected to go for the second tripartite elections in May next year in what is expected to be a battle between President Peter Mutharika, the DPP leader, and MCP president Lazarus Chakwera , who is also leader of opposition in Parliament, State vice-president Saulos Chilima and former president Joyce Banda.Follow and Subscribe Nyasa TV :