The governing Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) held its elective convention from July 1 to 3, which was announced by the office of the party’s Secretary General in May. This was the third elective national conference for the DPP since it was established by Bingu wa Mutharika in 2005.
For 30 days, the party machinery went to work organizing probably one of the best organized conventions in the history of the country and in the history of political parties. All electoral colleges or delegates at constituency, district and regional levels, from all the political regions in the country this country: the southern; eastern; central and the northern regions were brought to COMESA hall – the convention venue – in record time.
The whole country was eagerly waiting to receive the resolution of the ruling party particularly about the profile of what it has done and how it intends to re-jet its vision as it takes this country to another new level of socioeconomic development. In particular, Malawians wanted to know the people that the delegates would vote into various positions because they are the ones who will guide the party through the tripartite elections next year.
The Chairman of the convention organizing committee, Nicholas Dausi, and his committee must therefore be commended for accomplishing such a daunting task and for putting up a good show of bringing together all the delegates from around the country in that once-in –lifetime event.
That accomplishment is not a mean feat. It is an indication that the DPP has got live grassroots structures that can be called upon into action within the shortest time possible.
It also shows that despite the fact that the last convention was held almost five years ago, DPP ground membership throughout the country is alive and intact despite the current political dynamics. This show of organizing temerity clearly separated men from the boys.
Almost all the positions were up for grabs except that of the President. President Peter Mutharika went unopposed, and was unanimously endorsed to be the party’s torchbearer in the elections next year. And in a mark of intra-party democracy, the playing field was opened up for all candidates to have access to the delegates and to campaign freely.
We noted a proliferation of posters particularly on social media for young people canvassing for various positions in the party. This was a positive development and an indication that DPP indeed makes good of its manifesto promises that it would promote democracy in this country by first ensuring that there is intra-party democracy within its ranks.
The convention which attracted almost 150 local and international journalists was one of the most free and fair that we have seen in the Warn Heart of Africa in recent memory. It was also one of the most hotly contested conventions particularly for the position of Vice President for the south. There were four candidates for the position: the previous holder, Dr. George Chaponda; Joseph Mwanamvekha; Kondwani Nankhumwa and Henry Mussa.
Like all candidates, these contestants were also allowed to freely roam around the country to meet and campaign among the delegates to promote their candidature. It was a deliberate design by the party to come up with the best candidate for the position of southern region Vice President, particularly looking at the pivotal role the holder of that position will play in the elections next year.
In the end, it was the best candidate, Kondwani Nankhumwa who won the position. He came first with 772 votes against Joseph Mwanamvenkha who got 407 whilst Henry Mussa got 401 votes. George Chaponda withdrew at the eleventh hour when he could not contain the heat coming from Nankhumwa who is the current Minister of Local Government and also Leader of Government Business in the National Assembly.
The youthful Nankhumwa who turned 40 on July 3 is generally regarded as a charismatic leader who many people within the rank and file of the DPP are looking up for direction on issues of socioeconomic development in the ruling party. He is viewed as visionary and energetic and also loyal both to Mutharika and to the core ideological thinking of the DPP.
Nankhumwa was Director of Elections during the May 2014 general elections. He is widely credited for enacting a winning strategy which catapulted the DPP to power from the benches of opposition something that rarely happens in Africa. His election to the position of Vice President will thus cement his footprint in the echelons of power within the DPP, and also ensure that he is at the pinnacle of the definition of the winning strategy for the party next year.
Looking at the number of young people who also have been elected to various positions in the party, the DPP now wears a youthful outlook, another element which gives it a boost ahead of the elections in view of the fact that a majority of voters in this country are youths within the age bracket of 18 to 40. His election would therefore help the party to establish rapport with these young voters who constitute over 64% of Malawi’s population.
Has the DPP emerged stronger after the convention? A big YES. Apart from the fact that the convention was a fantastic and well-organized event, the DPP practically purged out almost all the elements that were allegedly soiling the image of the party to the public. Instead the party has ushered in a largely youthful leadership which will help the party to dove-tail with youthful voters in the country.
The positive take-away from the convention is also not just about youthful leadership, but the actual content of the leadership. For example Nankhumwa and Chipungu (another youthful leader who got the Organizing Secretary position) are tried and tested youthful leaders who have previously come to the party on many occasions and delivered. The future of the DPP and this country is therefore in very capable hands.
The new DPP leadership alone is an assurance of the landslide victory for the party that many political commentators have been talking about.Follow and Subscribe Nyasa TV :