Former president Peter Mutharika has expressed displeasure with the conduct of Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) estranged vice-president for the South Kondwani Nankhumwa for using the late Bingu wa Mutharika’s potrait in his campaign poster.
On the poster in question which DPP spokesperson Shadric Namalomba shared on Monday, Nankhumwa, who is aspiring to take over leadership of DPP, allegedly indicates that “power is never given on a silver platter, you must fight for it”.
The poster has Nankhumwa’s face and that of DPP founding president Bingu wa Mutharika.
But this has not gone down well with Peter Mutharika who said the poster insinuates that his deceased brother could have endorsed Nankhumwa’s candidacy.
Reads Mutharika’s statement: “It has come to my attention that one individual who apparently is an aspirant to the DPP presidency has posted a poster in which he has put the face of the former President of the party, late Professor Bingu wa Mutharika.
“The purpose of this callous action is to give the impression that the late Bingu would have endorsed this individual’s candidacy. As president of the DPP and head of the Mutharika family, I am distressed by this exploitation of our departed relative.”
In a separate interview, Namalomba warned that any disregard to the warning will attract punitive actions.
He said: “Procedurally, this statement serves as a caution.”
Mutharika has since warned that continued use of the late Bingu’s face and party logo without permission was a serious offence that attracts serious disciplinary action.
Nankhumwa on Monday refused to be drawn into commenting on both Mutharika’s statement and the poster in question.
But political pundits have said Mutharika was being too mean for nothing, arguing that he was exhibiting traits of a frustrated person.
Political commentator Humphrey Mvula said if he had any issues against Nankhumwa, the best Mutharika should have done was to engage the aspirant privately instead of issuing public statements.
He said: “Mutharika doesn’t love the party because as a leader he should have been promoting unity. If there are soft issues, he should do them behind the scenes.
“He should not use the media to communicate his frustrations, his desire or choice of candidate that he would want.”
Mzuzu University political analyst Chrispin Mphande said procrastination on a convention has proved to be dangerous for DPP.
He said there is need to hold it early enough so that the party leads with one person as its pilot.
Mphande said: “By now, we expected the top leadership to have mended fences, but instead, we are seeing new players coming in showing interest to take over leadership. It shows the standoff has a long way to be sorted out while DPP is losing its grip on the ground.
The new fiasco comes just a month after Mutharika moved to seal cracks in the party by bringing together the party’s six presidential hopefuls.
The hopefuls are former Reserve Bank of Malawi governor Dalitso Kabambe, Living Word Evangelical Church overseer Prophet David Mbewe, Machinga Likwenu member of Parliament (MP) and DPP vice-president for the Eastern Region Bright Msaka, Chiradzulu Central MP and former minister of Finance Joseph Mwanamvekha, Nankhumwa as well as economist and businessperson Paul Gadama, son of former politician the late Aaron Gadama.
Cracks in the former governing DPP came to light after Grezelder Jeffrey in August 2020 told The Nation that Mutharika, who lost the June 23 2020 presidential election to President Lazarus Chakwera, had done his part and that the party needed a new person to lead it into the future, calling for an early convention.
Later, the party fired Nankhumwa, Jeffrey, Jappie Mhango and Mulanje West legislator Yusuf Nthenda for allegedly influencing the rejection of Mutharika’s appointee, Francis Kasaila, as Leader of Opposition in Parliament.
The matter is now going for full trial in court.
Peter Mutharika took over the leadership of DPP after the death of his brother, Bingu wa Mutharika in April 2012, propelling the party to victory in the 2014 Tripartite Elections.