The numerical muscle in Parliament for the erstwhile governing DPP continues to falter after the Malawi Supreme Court of Appeal yesterday nullified Symon Vuwa Kaunda’s victory in the May 2019 Nkhata Bay Central election.
Yesterday’s court determination brings to five the number of parliamentary seats that the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) has lost.
Other seats they have lost following court rulings and subsequent by-elections are Phalombe North (Anna Kachikho), Nsanje North (Francis Kasaila) and Nsanje North(Esther Mcheka Chilenje).
While Kachikho withdrew her candidature at the eleventh hour during the by-election, Kasaila and Mcheka Chilenje lost their seats.
The party also lost Karonga North West following the death of incumbent James Kamwambi and the March 30 by-election was won by UTM Party’s Felix Kaira. Kamwambi was the second member of Parliament (MP) in the district to succumb to Covid-19 after Malawi Congress Party (MCP)legislator Cornelius Mwalwanda.
DPP spokesperson Brown Mpinganjira and secretary general Grezeider Jeffrey did not pick calls yesterday when we sought their comments on the prevailing situation.
However, University of Malawi (Unima) political scientist Ernest Thindwa observed that the decline of DPP’s parliamentary strength was not surprising as it has now become “a party on a steep downward spiral.”
He said: “The party was so disconnected from the wider population and it is paying the price if recent general elections and by-elections are anything to go by.
“Loss of presidency entails being starved of public patronage resources which the party to some extent successfully used to buy support whilst in power. In the absence of meaningful patronage resources, the party will struggle to win support beyond its traditional stronghold.”
Thindwa further said the party would struggle to win back broad-based citizen support for not making an effort to shake off“undesirable ethnocentric tag” and its inability to emerge as a competent alternative government in waiting due to the disunity rocking the party.
On his part, another Unima political scientist Master Dicks Mfune said the dwindling DPP strength in Parliament was worrisome as the situation will result in a weak opposition bloc,” he said.
Former leader of People’s Party in Parliament Raphael Mhone, a seasoned legal practitioner who lost to Vuwa-Kaunda by only eight votes, took the case to the Supreme Court of Appeal after the High Court in Mzuzu ruled in favour of the DPP candidate in September 2019.
In its ruling, the seven justices of Appeal argued they considered the totality of the evidence and they were unable to affirm the conclusions made by the High Court in Mzuzu on the facts.
Kaunda and his lawyer Patrick Ngwira declined to comment on the matter.
Said Kaunda: “I have no comment to make, talk to my lawyers.”
On his part, Ngwira said in an interview from Mzuzu he was yet to get a copy of the ruling to appreciate the reasoning of the court because“we had to engage someone to appear on our behalf since the ruling was being delivered in Blantyre”.