Former governing Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) has announced that its convention will take place in July 2023, amid
internal fighting which turned ugly on Friday.
But political and administrative experts have suggested that an early convention is the only solution to the continued infighting in the party.
DPP spokesperson Brown Mpinganjira in an interview yesterday said the party has decided to hold the convention in 2023 to allow time for resolving outstanding issues such as filling vacant posts within party structures.
He said: “We have up to July 2023 to hold our convention and we have decided that we will go all the way to July 2023. We have some groundwork to do before a meaningful convention is held.
“We thought we should make that clarification because some people think the convention should be held very soon. I have been very clear that even after the functional review committee, it will be only a meeting of the central committee and NGC [National Governing Council] that will map the way forward. So, nobody should expect a convention this year.”
The DPP constitution prescribes the holding of a convention every five years while Article 8 (4) of the same constitution states that “the party shall hold at least one mid-term meeting of the national political conference as the central committee may determine”.
Mpinganjira said as the last convention was conducted in 2018, the next is due in 2023.
But while admitting that constitutionally, the party should hold a convention in 2023, estranged secretary general Greselder Jeffrey said the situation in the party calls for an early convention to elect a new leader.
She said she was not aware how Mpinganjira arrived at the 2023 date as the party’s central committee is yet to meet and decide on the date.
Said Jeffrey: “I agree that the constitution talks about five years and that means 2023, but that was the situation then because [former president Peter] Mutharika was already president. What we need now is a new leader to sell to people. We also need time to deal with any problems that may arise.”
Meanwhile, DPP regional governors from four regions have given the party’s vice-president (South) Kondwani Nankhumwa seven days to apologise for allegedly sponsoring acts of violence against Mpinganjira in Lilongwe last week.
But Nankhumwa has denied any involvement in the Mpinganjira assault, describing the claims as defamation and character assassination.
DPP regional governor for the East Imran Mtenje said during a press briefing in Mangochi yesterday that if Nankhumwa does not apologise, he will not be allowed to conduct meetings using DPP’s name.
The meeting was also attended by regional governors from all
political regions except
Central Region, directors of women and directors of youth from all the regions who were led by DPP vice-president (Centre) Zeria Chakale. political regions except
Addressing the media after a closed-door meeting, Mtenje alleged that the party has established that all acts of violence, including the assault on Friday of Mpinganjira and another DPP executive member Francis Mphepo, are engineered by Nankhumwa.
He said: “The party is concerned that Nankhumwa is using violence to bring confusion in the party. Therefore, we are giving him seven days to apologise for sponsoring violent attacks on our colleagues and all other atrocious activities he has done in the past. If he does not apologise, he will not be allowed to contest for the DPP presidency.”
Asked what informed their claim that it was Nankhumwa behind the attacks, Mtenje said one of the boys who disrupted the Mpinganjira meeting put on a T-shirt inscribed with letters ‘KN’.
“In DPP circles, KN stands for Kondwani Nankhumwa. Besides, we know that Nankhumwa has been perpetrating violence since 2018,” he stated.
On her part, Chakale urged Nankhumwa to “wait until 2023 when we shall hold our convention”.
But in a WhatsApp response, Nankhumwa denied hiring thugs to disrupt the Lilongwe meeting.
He said briefly: “Tell them they will face my lawyers in court. [My lawyers] are already working on the papers. This is defamation and character assassination.”
Meanwhile, University of Malawi’s Chancellor College political science lecturer Mustafa Hussein has said the developments in DPP have exposed the party’s lack of intra-party democracy.
He said in an interview yesterday that there is too much political intolerance within the party which is limiting any space for dialogue.
Said Hussein: “The feuds that are there between Nankhumwa and the party could have been resolved a long time ago had the party embraced contact and dialogue. Failure by the leaders to discuss their differences amicably will just kill the party. They need to resolve the infighting and hasten the convention.”
On his part, another Chancellor College political and administrative studies Professor Happy Kayuni
also said a convention would solve all the current squabbles. also said a convention would solve
He said: “There are some stakeholders within the DPP that fear that with a convention, they may lose their positions; hence, delaying the process. Some feel that the party will break apart, but it’s better to disagree now than when they are close to elections.”
Earlier, Mzuzu University-based political analyst Chrispin Mphande said DPP leadership divisions are also dividing supporters.
He said: “By now, we expected the top leadership to have mended fences. DPP, being the main opposition party, they need to put their house in order now.”
Cracks in DPP came to light after Jeffrey told The Nation last year that Mutharika had done his part and that the party needed a new person to lead it into the future.
However, the sentiments did not go down well with Mutharika who asked Jeffrey to apologise. Even after the two met to mend fences, nothing changed.
Later, the par ty f ired Nankhumwa alongside Jeffrey, treasurer general Jappie Mhango and Mulanje West legislator Yusuf Nthenda for alleged indiscipline.
Nankhumwa was also accused of clinging to the position of Leader of Opposition in Parliament when the party leadership had opted for Francis Kasaila.
Mutharika lost the court-ordered June 23 2020 Fresh Presidential Election to the nine-party Tonse Alliance led by Malawi Congress Party president Lazarus Chakwera who partnered Mutharika’s then estranged Vice- President Saulos Chilima of UTM Party