Some DPP MPs have said the change of government in Malawi makes them feel liberated and they canâ€™t wait to join President Joyce Bandaâ€™s Peopleâ€™s Party (PP).
Four MPs expressed the sentiments in separate interviews during the week amid criticism that political opportunism is driving DPP MPs to rush to PP before the burial of president Mutharika who died of heart failure in Lilongwe on April 5.
Dowa Ngala MP Cara Ewart Gawanani alleged that there was no democracy in DPP, saying MPs were required to rehearse what to say at party meetings.
Said Gawanani: â€œI am not saying this because things have happened like this. Everything was prearranged. Before any meeting to discuss the issues, the party was identifying people to speak at the meeting and ask them to rehearse their presentations.
â€œThe leadership was censoring what you were going to say at the meeting. After rehearsing and [if] they were satisfied with your presentation, you were given an okay to speak at the meeting. You were not allowed to add anything of your own.â€
But Gawanani, who is among the MPs who have declared support to the newly-sworn in President, could not give names of DPP leaders who administered the rehearsals, saying he did not want to be vindictive.
â€˜We couldnâ€™t express ourselvesâ€™
Dowa East MP Jimmy Bauleni Mannah, said he submitted a resignation letter to DPP secretariat â€œseveral months agoâ€ because Mutharika did not allow MPs political space to express themselves and contribute to the running of DPP.
â€œI told them I was going to PP because of how decisions were being made in DPP. To say the truth, we were not free people in DPP. The president created a difficult atmosphere in the party. You could not oppose the leadership. They could not take any advice,â€ said Mannah.
DPP secretary general Elias Wakuda Kamanga on Thursday refused to comment on the subject, saying: â€œWhy canâ€™t we talk about that after burial? We will not run away.â€
The partyâ€™s chief whip Symon Vuwa Kaunda said he could not talk as he was engaged in other business.
â€˜It is a reliefâ€™
MP for Chikhwawa South Joseph Tembo also said he felt relieved now that DPP is no longer in government.
â€œWe feel free now, â€œTembo, who is also a well-known musician, said. â€œThere was too much intimidation in the party. You could not speak your mind. To be honest, there was no democracy in the party.â€
He also said he made the decision to join PP in the best interest of his constituents.
â€œI could not make this decision on my own. My people want development and have pressured me to support PP,â€ said Tembo.
Nsanje Lalanje MP Sam Ganda said he expected Banda to be a listening President.
â€œWe have known her as somebody you could speak to and [who] listens. We feel the country is in safe hands. We are also supporting her because we donâ€™t want her to have problems in Parliament,â€ said Ganda.
Hope Alliance leader Moses Kunkuyu, who was among the first to speak against Mutharikaâ€™s administration while within DPP, said he could not validate the MPsâ€™ claims as the party stopped inviting him to its meetings.
MPs fear poverty
Analysts have stressed that Banda should carefully scrutinise those pledging support to her after the demise of Mutharika.
Chancellor College political analyst Dr. Blessings Chinsinga said some politicians switching allegiance now, fear swimming in poverty if they lose connections with government because the private sector is thin.
â€œIf they really want to work with government, then they should not be given positions. They can serve in other positions. The challenge is that the private sector is very small and these people know that when they lose government connection they will definitely swim in poverty,â€ Chinsinga said.
President Joyce Banda and former president Bakili Muluzi have urged politicians to first mourn Mutharika. Banda has also said those wishing to join PP should first resign from their parties and register with PP general secretary, a move which may require re-contesting their seats in a by-election.
It is not known whether Section 65, which governs the movement of MPs in Parliament will be applied.
In separate interviews, the DPP MPs explained how they were forced to endorse decisions on unpopular issues like the change of the national flag, enactment of bad laws and the zero-deficit budget.
Mutharikaâ€™s party, now in opposition, came under intense criticism, for among others, bulldozing enactment of unpopular laws on restriction of obtaining of injunctions against government and Section 46 of the Penal Code which mandates the Information Minister to ban publications.
Asked whether the sentiments against the late Mutharika were being made now because of the MPsâ€™ hunger for money in the new regime, Gawanani said: â€œItâ€™s not that. Ask any other DPP MP, they will tell you the truth.â€
Mannah, who is among those in support of Banda, said the MPs feel relieved with the fall of DPP.