The governing Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) desperate move to recruit more newly-elected independent members of Parliament (MPs) to boost its numbers in parliament hit blank wall when an independent legislator elect in Lilongwe told the party gurus off.
According to an audio clip going viral on social media, Esther Kathumba who floored veteran Malawi Congress Party (MCP) politician Joseph Njobvuyalema in Lilongwe Mapuyu south constituency told Chimwemwe Chipungu, the DPP organizing secretary off.
“As an independent candidate, I have [political choices] to make. I am sorry, I am will not be attending the meeting [at Kondwani Nankhumwa’s] house. Thanks for the invitation anyway,” said Kathumba.
Chipungu had called Kathumba to invite her for what he called networking meeting with independent members of parliament at Nankhumwa’s residence at Luchenza in Thyolo.
DPP says it has now recruited over 30 independent members of parliament out of the 55 voted into the 193-strong House.
The independent MPs met President Peter Mutharika on Saturday at Sanjika Palace and were enticed to work with government.
DPP spokesperson Nicholas Dausi said the governing party has an open-door policy and will welcome all those seeking to work with it.
The independents who met Mutharika include Joseph Nomale who floored long-time legislator and ex-Cabinet minister Henry Mussa in Chiradzulu East, Ephraim Abele Kayembe of Dowa West and Mzimba West’s Billy Kaunda who defeated MCP second vice-president Harry Mkandawire.
Mzimba Luwerezi’s Sam Chirwa, who did not attend the Saturday meeting, also declared his interest to work with government.
The newly-elected legislator, who is husband to former Cabinet minister Grace Chiumia, said he was the first to express interest to work with government.
Yona Mkandawire of Rumphi West said he was approached by both DPP and MCP, but said he was still weighing his options.
In the parliamentary race in the May 21 Tripartite Elections, DPP won 62 seats in the 193-seat National Assembly while Malawi Congress Party (MCP) and independents got 55 each. The other seats were shared as follows: United Democratic Front (UDF) 10 seats, People’s Party (PP) five, UTM Party four and Alliance for Democracy (Aford) one. Elections were held in 192 constituencies.