The squabbles in the former governing Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) have trickled to the North where Nkhata Bay Central legislator Symon Vuwa Kaunda is accused of trying to wrest the region’s vice-presidency from Goodall Gondwe.
DPP regional governor for the North Ackim Mwanza confirmed the accusation, saying Kaunda has been pressurising the party’s regional members to announce his ascendancy to the leadership but they have refused to do so. On his part, Kaunda claims the party wants him to take over since Gondwe resigned.
However, in a s eparate interview Gondwe said he has only indicated that he was going to retire after the 2023 convention, hence it was wrong for someone to try and wrest power from him because “I am still in charge.”
On Tuesday, Mwanza said Kaunda had summoned them to Nkhata Bay where he tried to convince them to hold a media briefing to announce that he was taking over from Gondwe.
He said: “We advised him that we have a sitting VP in the name of Honourable Goodall Gondwe. Apparently, Kaunda had mistakenly interpreted Gondwe’s statement about his intention to retire after the 2023 convention.
“Kaunda has been busy calling people, explaining his stand. He wants us to pick him as VP which is not the procedure. Our VP remains Gondwe until 2023, and all aspirants must contest at the convention. Kaunda just wants to bring confusion so that we get divided, which we will not condone.”
The regional governor, who claimed to have spoken to Gondwe, said people like Kaunda should not be allowed to bring confusion.
When it was put to Gondwe that Kaunda was aiming for his position, he expressed surprise saying he had not resigned or even informed the party leadership and membership that he had stepped down.
He said: “This is a total lie because what I said is that the president [Peter Mutharika] and I will step down during the convention. That’s what I said. Kaunda is not telling the truth, he just wants the position.
“I wonder, why do people want such positions? They asked me on my standing, and I said I am still vice-president, but I will not be there after the convention and I said that in front of everybody. ”
“People should just wait for the convention coming in two years, and trust me, two years in politics is just too near. I don’t want to move now. I will do that at an appropriate time.”
But in an interview Kaunda, who retained his Nkhata Bay Central Constituency in the June 30 by-election, insisted Gondwe had resigned and that it is the party that wants him to replace the veteran economist.
Argued Kaunda: “Gondwe called the regional committee and told them that he had retired, saying he can only think but not walk because of his age. Then he comes back and says I will formally retire in 2023 but the party is saying between now and 2023, we should have a caretaker person.
“The region is seeing this and wants a replacement. It does not mean that I want to dethrone him, if he is still there that’s fine, he is our god father. I cannot force myself to the position; the region will make a recommendation to the central committee which will make a final decision.”
Kaunda insisted that it was the regional committee that met and wrote the central committee recommending him as caretaker until 2023, adding.
University of Malawi based political analyst Ernest Thindwa said Gondwe’s retirement is long overdue, and that there is need to bring in more youths in leadership positions.
“He has done his part and looking at his advanced age, certainly he needs to leave the stage to more energetic people to move the party forward.”
With the squabbles in DPP that have seen two camps emerging—one led by Mutharika and the other by estranged vice-president (South) Kondwani Nankhumwa—Thindwa said Gondwe can play a reconciliation role.
A special committee that conducted a functional review of the party warned that divisions are condemning it to slow death and doubted if its main leadership organ, the central committee, is behaving in the interest of the party.
The report observed growing anarchy and chaos in the party, lamenting that the membership has lost trust in the leadership.
DPP lost in the court-ordered fresh presidential election on June 23 2020.