President Peter Mutharika has attracted the wrath of a political analyst and some members advocating for change of leadership in Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) for declaring that he will lead DPP in the 2019 Tripartite Elections.
In separate interviews on Sunday, political analyst ErnesT Thindwa, DPP national governing council (NGC) member and director of youth Louis Ngalande described Mutharika’s declaration at Kamuzu International Airport (KIA) on Saturday as unacceptable and showing traits of dictatorship.
In recent weeks, a faction of DPP officials has been calling on Mutharika, 79, to pave the way for Vice-President Saulos Chilima, 45, as the party’s torchbearer in the forthcoming elections. The calls follow earlier sentiments by former first lady Callista Mutharika, the widow of DPP founding president and Peter’s elder brother Bingu wa Mutharika, that Peter was advanced in age; hence, should step aside for a younger and energetic candidate in the name of Chilima.
But in an apparent response to the calls on his return from the United Kingdom on Saturday, Mutharika described those calling for him to leave the stage as Judas Iscariots.
“There are some Judas Iscariots who say they want to boot me out of the party. Why would they want to do that? To tell you the truth, I am going nowhere, I will not go as people have said, I will stand come 2019, contest and win with a landslide,” he said.
In an interview on Sunday, Thindwa, who is based at Chancellor College, a constituent college of the University of Malawi, said Mutharika’s statement is unacceptable in a democracy, wondering why the President is running away from facing challengers at the party’s convention.
He said: “For him to say he will stand before the convention is held is being dictatorial. It shows there is no democracy in DPP and Mutharika takes it as his personal property. Mutharika should allow members to choose who they want. He is imposing himself which is not good for the party and not good for Malawi.”
On the other hand, Ngalande wondered why Mutharika was busy making pronouncements when he has not called for an NGC meeting since 2013 where such issues could be discussed.
He said: “Let Mutharika set the date of the convention, and he must not forget that he is the author of our constitution and must respect what he authored.
“He should not impose himself. He has to call for the convention and people must speak. These self-declarations are not democratic.”
Ngalande said while Mutharika was eligible to contest at the convention having served one term, he needed to seek fresh mandate from the party through a convention.
Mulanje South lawmaker Bon Kalindo, one of those who have openly declared support for Chilima, said if Mutharika leads DPP during the elections, the party would lose to the opposition Malawi Congress Party (MCP).
He said: “What Mutharika said is a total mockery of democracy.”
But presidential press secretary and spokesperson Mgeme Kalilani dismissed accusations that the President was being dictatorial, saying there was nothing dictatorial about an individual announcing his or her availability for re-election.
DPP vice-president (South) George Chaponda is also on record as having declared that Mutharika will go unopposed at the party’s convention whose date is yet to be set. He claimed that was the resolution of DPP district governors from the Southern Region. In the Northern Region, regional governor Kenneth Sanga has vowed to block any convention delegate deemed anti-Mutharika from attending the convention.