Pressure is mounting for former president Peter Mutharika to state his position on whether he will run for office again amid endorsements from regional leaders of the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP).
In a written response yesterday, DPP vice-president (South) Kondwani Nankhumwa said much as he would not comment on the matter, Mutharika, 81, needs to come out and clearly state his position.
He said: “First, ask APM to come out [clear on the matter] and express himself. That is the only time some of us can comment.”
In a separate written response, the party’s vice-president (East) Bright Msaka said while there are numerous platforms for electing leadership, a convention remains the ultimate decider.
“There are various mobilisations for leadership that takes place within a political party. Ultimately, the convention decides,” he said.
But when contacted yesterday, Mutharika’s spokesperson Shadric Namalomba said the immediate past president is still consulting on the matter and he will state his position in due course.
“His Excellency APM is taking note of the ongoing endorsements. He [Mutharika] is currently consulting and at the right time Malawians will be informed,” he said.
When asked if the endorsements reflect the party’s position in general, Namalomba said Mutharika believes it is particular citizen’s right and freedom to express themselves as enshrined in Malawi’s Constitution.
He said the endorsements also tell a story about Mutharika’s capabilities; hence, those endorsing have trust in him to lead the party during the 2025 general election.
In recent months, some DPP top officials have been convincing party followers to allow Mutharika to contest in 2025.
DPP regional governor (North) Patrick Ackim Mwanza and his counterpart in the South, Charles Mchacha, told our sister paper Nation on Sunday of May 8 2022 that they want Mutharika to contest in the forthcoming elections to end squabbles that have rocked the former governing party.
They called on those aspiring to contest for the party’s presidency to challenge him at the convention. But our efforts to re-engage them yesterday proved futile as they could not be reached on numerous attempts.
On Friday last week, quasi-religious body Public Affairs Committee (PAC) met with Mutharika at his Mangochi private residence where his candidature was discussed.
PAC executive director Robert Phiri confirmed in an interview yesterday that they discussed Mutharika’s candidature, but asked for more time to give a comprehensive response.
When asked on Mutharika’s response pertaining to the discussions on his candidature amid the endorsements, Namalomba referred the matter back to PAC.
In an earlier interview, governance commentator Makhumbo Munthali said if the DPP’s constitution will allow Mutharika to contest again, there should be a level playing field so that other aspirants can compete with him without being barred or persecuted.
He said the current attempts where some candidates are not allowed to campaign are a clear signal that the environment is not conducive.
Cracks in the DPP came to light in August 2020 when secretary general Greselder Jeffrey told The Nation that there was need for new leadership.
Mutharika lost the court-sanctioned June 23 2020 presidential election to President Lazarus Chakwera.
The former president took over the party’s leadership after the death of his brother Bingu wa Mutharika in April 2012, propelling it to victory in the 2014 Tripartite Elections.