Former ruling Democratic Progressive Party (DPP), whose officials publicly proclaimed to have “unanimously” endorsed Peter Mutharika as its 2014 presidential candidate, says all positions, including that of president, will be up for grabs at the partyâ€™s national conference.
Explaining the partyâ€™s strategy in a bid to move forward after the death of its founder Bingu wa Mutharika, DPP secretary general Elias Wakuda Kamanga on Wednesday said after the official 30 days mourning period, DPP will embark on a consultative process before calling for a national conference to elect office-bearers.
“After consultative meetings, we will go for the convention. Even the party presidency will be open for contention at the conference,” he said in an interview.
DPP national governing council (NGC) reportedly unanimously appointed Peter Mutharika to lead the party as president after Binguâ€™s death, bypassing first vice-president Goodall Gondwe and two other vice-presidentsâ€”Dr Jean Kalilani and Yunus Mussa.
Kamanga said the consultative process will start after May 6, the day the mourning period for late Mutharika ends, and will involve meetings of the NGC, district committee members and DPP Members of Parliament (MPs).
Kamangaâ€™s sentiments that all positions will be open to contenders are in sharp contrast to the partyâ€™s earlier position when Bingu was alive and almost all members said they had already endorsed Peter Mutharika as the partyâ€™s leader and candidate in 2014.
The secretary general could not comment on what will come of Peterâ€™s prospective as the partyâ€™s 2014 torch bearer.
“Those are two different issues and we will deal with them as we go. Things will become clearer and clearer as we move to the convention. Probably a situation will emerge whereby we will not need those questions again,” he said.
In his eulogy to Bingu on Monday, Peter Mutharika assured DPP members that he will not abandon the party, but carry on from where his late brother left.
But Dr Mustapha Hussein, a political analyst based at the University of Malawiâ€™s Chancellor College in Zomba, described Peter Mutharikaâ€™s politicking during the funeral as misplaced. He advised DPP that if it is to survive, democracy should start from within the partyâ€™s NGC.
DPP has never held a convention to elect office-bearers at any level since its formation in 2005.
On Peter Mutharikaâ€™s eulogy, Hussein said: “Yes, such sentiments came in the wake of what had happened earlier with possibilities of members defecting, but the issues of party politics could have been presented at another fora. Such assurances also underlined that DPP is for the Mutharika family.”
The analyst also expressed doubts on Peter Mutharikaâ€™s ability of leading the DPP, saying he is someone who is yet to demonstrate his leadership qualities after failing to stand up to the occasion during the fight for academic freedom when he was Minister of Education.
The DPP constitution is silent on transition of power in case of any eventualities within the party. The constitution only talks of a national conference being responsible for electing party office-bearers while the NGC is mandated with ensuring smooth running of day to day affairs of the party.
â€”Former president the late Bingu wa Mutharika founded DPP in 2005 after ditching the United Democratic Front, the party that sponsored his ticket to State House in the 2004 General Elections.
â€”DPP has never held a convention to elect office-bearers since its formation in 2005. All office- bearers have been handpicked by those in authority.