Former Minister of Justice Samuel Tembenu is the personal legal counsel for former President and President of the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP), Peter Mutharika. He recently surprised many when he spoke strongly about the need for the DPP leadership self-evaluation following the party’s continued political downward spiral.
Following the party’s poor showing in the October 26, 2021 by-elections, Tembenu wrote: “A party in crisis like ours is burying its head in the sand and hoping, foolishly I suppose, that its problems will go away or disappear just like that. Confront the problems and resolve them.
Name calling and bad mouthing each other just compounds the problem. The whole idea of participating in by-elections when we are in such disarray seems laughable at best”.
The Senior Counsel (SC) likened the DPP to a child suffering from kwashiorkor or marasmus who needs to be nourished first “before being sent out to school or allowed to play with his or her peers”.
Said Tembenu: There is a serious crisis that needs to be resolved. It’s a fallacy for a divided party to win an election. We have spoken about these things in private but nothing seems to work. We need decisive and resolute leadership now. As things are now, I agree, we are moving like a radar-less aeroplane. These things have to be said openly and without fear”.
The party’s Vice President for Eastern Region Bright Msaka concurred with Tembenu. In his contribution on the DPP WhatsApp Forum strictly for National Governing Council (NGC) members, which Nyasa Times has seen, he wrote: “I am following with keen interest the issues being raised by colleagues. Very apt. Very valid. I agree that indeed we face a real and gathering danger.
“I think that time has come for those categorised as leaders on this forum to also be making comments and observations on the various issues under discussion. It might be helpful for the membership to know whether or not certain pertinent concerns are shared at all levels of the party. The purpose of such contributions ought to be team building, not camp building.
“My view is that every by-election has had an eloquent message for us. A writing on the wall. How do we ignore such eloquent message and expect a different outcome at the next by-elections? If rumour is anything to go by, more by elections in all parts of the country might soon be thrust upon us again.
“I have heard statements to the effect that we should participate in all the by-elections because we are a big party. No. I disagree. We should participate in the elections to win, to build the party, and to increase our numbers in Parliament. And until and unless we have in place a strategy for victory, those on this forum who spend their personal resources to support the by-elections will not be as enthusiastic”.
However, some Mutharika’s ‘blue-eyed boys’ in the NGC, notably the party’s Organizing Secretary Chimwemwe Mazabuka Chipungu, have spoken strongly against Tembenu and his ‘supporters’, calling them names that cannot be printed as they are unpalatable. He is one on the administrators of the NGC WhatsApp forum and he has removed Tembenu as a member.
In reaction to Chipungu’s action, a number of NGC members, including former Information Minister Mark Botomani and Chikwawa parliamentarian Owen Chomanika have questioned the Organizing Secretary’s authority to remove Tembenu from the forum. In turn, Chomanika, who is also an administrator, has also removed Chipungu from the forum.
Recently, the party’s embattled Secretary General Gelzeder Jeffrey issued a statement that from the party’s loss of government on June 23, 2020, the DPP would soon go to a national elective conference to elect new NGC members, including the President of the party, who shall subsequently be the party’s presidential candidate in the 2025 tripartite elections.
“After the necessary steps, including logistical arrangements and consultations with the top leadership of the DPP, my office, the National Secretariat, shall communicate to the DPP membership and the entire nation the date(s) and venue when and where the next DPP National Political Conference or National Convention shall be held,” she said.
But despite growing calls from some sections of the party for Mutharika to step aside and retire from his position to give the party some breath of fresh air, Mutharika has vehemently refused to step aside, arguing the party constitution allows him to remain President of the party until 2023.
One analyst recently wrote: “Whatever the precise intentions for clinging to the DPP leadership are, there is little doubt that Peter Mutharika is a spent political force. He is not only old but he will also not be the party’s presidential candidate in the next election and now is the time that Peter Mutharika acknowledged the reality that politics is now beyond him and that the more he clings on to the DPP leadership and fight against his perceived enemies within the party and the MCP and President Chakwera, the more he risks further reputational damage”.Follow and Subscribe Nyasa TV :