Peter Mutharika not moved by ‘ghost’ petitioner: ‘It’s PP propaganda’

Acting president of Malawi’s former ruling DPP, professor Peter Mutharika, says he is not moved by a petition demanding his removal, saying the document is the work of ruling PP as propaganda and has warned that they will faces a “rude awakening” at the next polls.

A document signed by one Harvey Nampinga, circulated to various media houses including Nyasa Times, demands party’s secretary general (SG) Wakuda Kamanga to elect a new leader pending a convention, saying Mutharika does not have a good track record for that office.

But Mutharika, through his personal assistant Ben Phiri, dismissed snide contents of the letter, saying it is the work of PP propaganda machine.

Ghost member

“It is an anonymous document,” said Phiri.

Peter Mutharika: Not moved

But when Nyasa Times told him the document it has in possession is signed by Nampinga and there is a phone number  0992624752, Phiri said “- I have not seen it.”

Mutharika’s aide nonetheless pointed out that it is a “propaganda document coming from PP.”

Phiri said Nampinga should come out in the open, challenging that he does not exists and not in the rank and file of DPP.

“Why should DPP be responding to a ghost member. He is like James Phiri – who never existed – in Bakili Muluzi case,” said Phiri.

Discrediting Mutharika

In the letter Nampinga says: “We should elect a new leader who should steer that party pending national convention.”

The letter says the new leader should be elected among the party’s three vice-presidents: Goodall Gondwe, Jean Kalirani and Yunus Mussa. They have also proposed Dr George Chaponda, arguing that Mussa’s membership in the party is questionable.

Nampinga argues that the appointment of Mutharika was made in haste and the Cabinet ( most of the people  have defected to PP) that chose him, had no mandate.

“We need an interim leader who has the mandate of the people other than a handpicked one.”

The letter dig holes in the leadership credentials of Peter Mutharika, arguing that he should not be maintained since “political realities have changed and people cannot take us serious to field another Mutharika.”

It adds: “Memories are still fresh in the minds of many. And the Mulhalko wa Alomwe, donor standoff, fuel and forex shortage plus general governance issues are still fresh.”

The letter also claimed that Mutharika is not in sync with the public and cannot make a good leader for an opposition party fighting to get into government.

“He cannot communicate in Chichewa.”

The letter also accused, Mutharika of having “big moral problems like being single and still flirting with party woman” like MP Grace Maseko of Balaka.

Nampinga leading a group, describing itself as ‘concerned Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) officials’ also said Mutharika does not have a good track record as a Cabinet minister.

“Looking at the way campaigns are conducted and planned, it’s important that we find a solution by means of electing a person who can at least boast of his or her achievements in public.

“Professor Mutharika is associated with the change of the national flag when he was Minister of Justice and Constitutional Affairs.

“In addition, the presentation of bills that were deemed irrelevant and in bad taste…were enacted into law during his tenure.”

The letter also refers to last year’s academic freedom saga, in which Mutharika presided over the Ministry of Education and “e never made an effort to sort out the problem. This indeed tarnished the image of the country and has left scars that will take long to heal.”

Deceased estate

The group also asked to be party to the discussion of the estate of late Dr. Bingu wa Mutharika “since he was our president and also Chairperson of Bineth Trust.”

Reads the letter: “A case in point is the houses in Area 12 and 3 that were leased by and for the party from City of Lilongwe Assembly during the reign of late Professor Donton Mkandawire. However, it was agreed that the houses will be bought by the late President with the funds he got from the Republic of China through Mr. James Chuang.

“In the course of the arrangement our leader used Bineth Trust account since the Taiwanese donation was deposited into Bineth Trust account at Standard Bank, City Centre Branch.

“All these records are readily available for your perusal, Sir. In view of this we are an interested party to the proceedings just as was the case after the demise of late Kamuzu Banda.”

DPP accounts

The group is also demanding that the party accounts be audited by an independent auditor and that the more than K270 million (about $1.08 million) raised at the College of Medicine Sports Complex in Blantyre last year be handed over to the party.

The group says all donations amounting close to K8 billion (about $32 million) be surrendered to the finance committee of the party chaired by Dr George Chaponda.

“Party resources acquired from 2005 should be under the office of the Secretary General and not Prof. Mutharika as is the case today. There is need to take stock of all resources and materials since they were bought or donated in the name of DPP and that is why they all bear the party brand – blue and the maize cobs.

“These were never acquired through ones personal funds like a salary or savages. Those who made the noble donation did that in good faith.”

Propaganda machine

Phiri told Nyasa Times the issues raised were “lies” cooked by the ruling PP.

“Nampinga is a bogus person. It is all propaganda because Peter Mutharika and DPP are gaining ground,” he said.

Phiri said if somebody wants to challenge Mutharika “let them do so at the convention.”

“PP are touching a panic button,” he added.

Phiri said Mutharika was “not moved” by the tactics, pointing out that DPP will give PP “a rude awakening come next elections.”

He claimed many journalists in various media outlets who received the letter had dropped the story after making verification of its authenticity, saying they realised it was “work of propaganda machine.”

Phiri mentioned journalists (names withheld) who had confessed dropping the story.

But PP deputy spokesman Ken Msonda said DPP crisis should be associated with them and refused to comment.

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