Labour Minister Luscious Kanyumba on Sunday held a political rally in Mulanje where a party official told him: DPP is as good as Ã¢â‚¬Å“deadÃ¢â‚¬Â in the district.
The bombshell came from DPP campaign director for Mulanje a Mr Manyela who said there are no party activities as people are frustrated because President Bingu wa Mutharika has ignored them since the 2009 elections.
The mass rally was held at Pasani Primary School in Mulanje Pasani Constituency.
John Mbalika, DDP governor for the constituency, concurred with Manyela in an interview on Tuesday, warning that the ruling party risks losing in the 2014 elections if its leadership does not engage the people at the grass roots.
Said Mbalika: Ã¢â‚¬Å“The problem we have is that the leadership is not helping us. There are no party meetings. The leadership has never visited us since the 2009 elections. People who fought hard for the party in 2009 are abandoned. People are worried. We are like orphans. We do not have direction. The President should come.Ã¢â‚¬Â
Mbalika said even the regional committee has never visited the constituency.
Peter Nowa, MP for Mulanje Pasani who did not attend the meeting, said in an interview on Monday he was not surprised by the open criticism by DPP leaders at the grass roots.
Ã¢â‚¬Å“I have always told those in authority to help the people on the ground who fought hard for the party to win in the 2009 elections,Ã¢â‚¬Â Nowa said.
Ã¢â‚¬Å“These people are crying that they toiled in vain. The party says I am mad for saying these things, but what I told them comes from the people. I am happy that I am now vindicated that those who addressed the rally were told the truth which I already told them, but they ignored it.Ã¢â‚¬Â
Ironically Nowa, one of the MPs in a pressure group called Hope Alliance, formed to fight for change within DPP and to resist the passing of bad laws, was not spared the bashing. Mbalika said since he became MP, Nowa has not engaged chiefs, let alone the electorate.
Kanyumba told the rally he and Minister of Information and Civic Education Patricia Kaliati, who is also MP for Mulanje West, will look for a new DPP candidate for the constituency.
DPP spokesperson Dr. Hetherwick Ntaba said in an interview on Wednesday the party cannot be strong in all areas in the country and added that it will Ã¢â‚¬Å“take care of the weak areasÃ¢â‚¬Â.
Ã¢â‚¬Å“The party cannot be strong in all areas in the country. There are weak areas… That is not a big issue. We would not want the opposition to celebrate over that because they will be disappointed. We will take care of that situation,Ã¢â‚¬Â said Ntaba.
A Chancellor College political analyst James Chunga said DPP should regard the sentiments from the grass roots as a positive sign.
Ã¢â‚¬Å“What those people have done should be the order of the day in political parties where the grassroots are able to tell those in higher positions of the party what is happening on the ground and not the other way round. The sentiments should be regarded as positive signs for the DPP,Ã¢â‚¬Â Chunga said.
But the analyst also noted that the fact that such sentiments are coming from Mulanje, one of the districts in the Lhomwe belt which is the stronghold of DPP, could also be an indicator that things are much worse for the ruling party in other areas.
Said Chunga: Ã¢â‚¬Å“If people from such a region [Lhomwe belt] are able to say that, it would be logical to assume that things are worse in other parts of the country which have not been regarded as strongholds of DPP.Ã¢â‚¬Â
DPP has in the past expelled senior officials including party vice-president Joyce Banda, second vice-president Khumbo Kachale and legal adviser Henry Phoya for holding dissenting views. However, that did not stop Hope Alliance from openly criticising lack of democracy within the party and demanding that the grass roots should have a say on party issues.
Spokesperson of the Hope Alliance Moses Kunkuyu recently warned that DPP risks losing most of its seats unless the ruling party improves its image.
Mulanje is one of the districts where Mutharika scooped lots of votes. All MPs in the district belong to DPP. Mutharika comes from Thyolo which shares boundaries with Mulanje. The two districts together with Phalombe and part of Chiradzulu are popularly known as the Lhomwe belt where DPP did well in the 2009 elections.
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