Under-fire governing Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) secretary general (SG) Greselder Jeffrey insists President Peter Mutharika will have the final say on the disputed primary elections in the party’s Southern Region stronghold.
Jeffrey’s claims run counter to views from presidential spokesperson Mgeme Kalilani who said Mutharika entrusted a committee with responsibility to run primaries and make decisions.
But a Chancellor College-based political analyst has faulted the idea of the President approving the final list, arguing it could lead to imposition of candidates on people and might create more problems for the party.
Jeffrey—who is under pressure from a group calling itself Patriotic DPP Members that is demanding her resignation as SG and chairperson of the primaries—said Mutharika has to vet those who won the primary polls.
In an interview on Friday, Jeffrey said her office is only receiving primary election results and complaints from concerned individuals, but whatever the case, a committee overseeing the primaries will come up with its position on the complaints.
“And whatever happens, whether we decide to conduct reruns in some constituencies or wards, the results will be handed over to our President [Mutharika] for approval,” Jeffrey said.
Asked if that will not defeat the whole purpose of having a committee to conduct the primaries and the authority to declare winners, the party SG said the President is the one that appointed the committee to take up that role; hence, he has that power to have a final say.
Jeffrey said in her capacity as chairperson of the committee coordinating the primaries, she has no powers to announce the official results.
She emphasised the committee assesses reports from presiding officers for presentation to the party’s president for approval.
Jeffrey claimed to have knowledge of some presiding officers being against her committee’s handling of the primaries because they were allegedly palm-oiled by some aspirants to tilt results in their favour.
The party’s primaries in the Southern Region have been marred by controversies, creating a feeling among some contestants that the leadership is favouring incumbents, especially those with political and financial muscle.
But Chancellor College-based political scientist Mustafa Hussein said the involvement of the President in grass roots choices is faulty because Mutharika can abuse those powers and impose his favourites, thereby defeating the whole idea of the peoples’ right to elect who they want.
“That is not a proper way of handling the primaries. The essence of primaries is to allow the masses to choose their leaders. It has to be the constituents to approve the leaders they want.
“But leaving it for the President to approve is as good as imposing candidates on the people. That is not respecting their wishes,” Hussein said.
The political analyst urged DPP to handle the primary elections carefully, especially in the Southern Region, which is considered the governing party’s stronghold.
Kalilani, however, said just like in the first two phases in the Central and Northern regions, the committee simply reported to the President decisions they had already made, hence, nothing will change.
Jeffrey has refused to resign from her position as demanded by a faction of the governing party accusing her of messing up primary elections, especially in the Southern Region.
She said she was elected at the party’s convention and can only quit if asked by the party’s president, Mutharika.