At least 80 candidates will contest for positions in the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) national governing council (NGC) during the national conference to be held at Comesa Hall in the commercial city of Blantyre on Thursday, The Nation can reveal.
Interim president Peter Mutharika faces stern test from Speaker of Parliament Henry Chimunthu Banda whose camp has recently complained of threats and attempts to bar him and his sympathisers from attending the indaba.
The 1 400 plus delegates will not have an option on the vice-president responsible for the North as there is only one candidate, Chitipa North legislator Nick Masebo.
But tough competition is expected between Dr. Hetherwick Ntaba and Steven Kamwendo. They are vying for the position of vice-president for the Central Region. Ntaba, a former presidential spokesperson of late president Bingu wa Mutharika and founder of the DPP, who has recently been quiet from active politics, faces the challenge from Kamwendo who is supporting Chimunthu Banda.
Zomba Central MP Yunus Mussa will tussle with Ernest Malenga, Lonnie Chijere Chirwa and Ali Allan for the Eastern Region vice-presidency.
Dr. Jean Kalilani who was the party’s vice-president is vying for the position of secretary general. She faces tough competition from Ted Kalebe, Binton Kutsaira and Dr Allan Chiyembekeza who is the incumbent.
The seat was reserved for the Centre, but Chiyembekeza said a decision was arrived at that he should contest just as Chimunthu Banda is competing against Mutharika.
“I am the incumbent so they are contesting against me,” he said.
There are three candidates for the position of treasurer general. Incumbent Dr. George Chaponda will battle it out with Henry Mussa and regional governor for the South, Noel Masangwi.
Masangwi sounded confident that he will emerge victorious, saying he made his homework before declaring to contest. He was recently in the news for openly declaring that he would not support Chimunthu Banda.
Outspoken national publicity secretary Nicholas Dausi is to be challenged by Francis Kasaila while Bon Kalindo aka Winiko has joined the race for deputy national publicity secretary. He faces challenge from Zeliya Chakale and Laurine Mukunkha.
Based on the list The Nation has in possession, Patricia Kaliati will go unopposed as director of women likewise Bessie Chirambo as national campaign director. Ted Salule Masangwi has no competitor on the position of director of research.
Controversial Thyolo Thava MP Lifred Nawena guns for the national director of elections. He will be challenged by Kondwani Nankhumwa and Tarcisious Gowelo.
Director of youth for the South, Lewis Ngalande, faces off Francis Phiso for the position of national director of youth.
Meanwhile, Dausi, chairperson of the convention main organising committee said the party has hired the services of the Electoral Commission to preside over the first party convention.
DPP has sub-contracted the EC to assist them in the management of elections during the convention.
Chairperson of the accreditation committee, Patricia Kaliati, and EC chief elections officer Willie Kalonga also confirmed this in separate interviews on Tuesday.
The EC’s involvement comes after some party members had expressed discontent following the involvement of a relative to Ben Phiri, an aide to Peter Mutharika, as the one who has been hired to handle delegates, photographing and accreditation matters.
Mutharika is expected to face Speaker of the National Assembly Henry Chimunthu Banda on the presidential candidacy position.
Kaliati in an interview said to ensure transparency and a properly managed voting process, the party has sub-contracted EC to assist in the elections and also to help the party with the ballot boxes.
“During the elections, we will have EC staff who will be working with our people and the same time we are using printed ballot papers,” she said.
In a separate interview, Kalonga confirmed that EC has been approached to assist in the voting process.
“We will be there with our ballot boxes and staff and we will have access to their ballot papers before voting for us to put our security features.
Among others, Chimunthu Banda questioned which firm has been contracted to manage the electoral process, and how secure and perfect are the ballot booths.
Commenting on the involvement of Phiri’s brother in the accreditation process and photographing of the delegates, Kaliati defended the decision of the accreditation committee. She said the development would not compromise the process.
Kaliati also said the committee agreed to bring in two companies to handle the accreditation so that there should be no suspicions.
She mentioned the companies as Beta Investment and Focus Printers.
“Actually the whole accreditation process, including the taking of the pictures was open to everyone,” she said.
In an interview Ntcheu Bwanje North MP Steven Kamwendo, who is one of the MPs sympathetic to Chimunthu Banda, said that his camp was suspicious with the involvement of Phiri’s brother identified as Martin Phiri in the accreditation process.
And to ensure maximum security, Dausi said the party has requested the services of the Malawi Police Service to provide security during the elections. Dausi said all outstanding issues the delegates and other people raised were resolved.