President Peter Mutharika on Sunday evening met some legislators from the opposition People’s Party (PP) at Kamuzu Palace in Lilongwe, a development that has split PP which formed government between 2012 and 2014.
People’s Party secretary general Ibrahim Matola said he was in a PP delegation invited to attend the meeting at Kamuzu Palace, but he was turned back at the gate under the pretext that the discussions had not reached party level.
He said: “But when we went there, I was turned back at the gate. The party is being left out and whatever negotiations are happening are for themselves [the legislators].”
Matola said only members of Parliament (MPs) from PP, founded by former president Joyce Banda, fondly addressed as JB by her followers, who has been living abroad since losing the May 20 2014 Tripartite Elections, attended the meeeting.
He said before the Kamuzu Palace meeting, some PP legislators had met a government delegation at Parliament Building.
Matola warned that much as Mutharika’s Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) was seeking a working relationship in Parliament only, the MPs would need the party’s endorsement ahead of the 2019 Tripartite Elections.
He said the PP MPs who attended the Kamuzu Palace meeting included party spokesperson Noah Chimpeni (Nkhata Bay South East), Maquenda Chunga (Mzimba South), Ralph Jooma (Mangochi Monkey Bay), Beatrice Mwale (Kasungu North), Malani Mtonga (Karonga South), Kamlepo Kalua (Rumphi East), Wallace Chawawa (Zomba Chingale), Patricia Kayinga Nangozo (Zomba Central), Welani Chilenga (Chitipa North) and JB’s son, Roy Kachale (Zomba Malosa).
On the other hand, other PP legislators such as Harry Mkandawire (Mzimba West), Rachel Mazombwe Zulu (Mchinji North) and Elias Wakuda Kamanga (Kasungu North East) were not invited to the meeting purportedly because they were labelled Malawi Congress Party (MCP) sympathisers according to our source.
One of the PP MPs who attended the Sunday evening meeting confided in Nation Online that DPP proposed a loose working relationship similar to the one DPP has with United Democratic Front (UDF).
The MP said DPP was desperate for a coalition after losing the three parliamentary by-elections in the October 17 2017 by-elections.
The source added that the PP team that went to State House on Sunday used JB as a bargaining tool, demanding that Mutharika consults her personally on the proposal.
Said the source: “They [the PP team] also wanted that if she [JB] comes back, she should not be arrested.”
Another source said PP also bargained for two ministerial posts in Mutharika’s Cabinet with Jooma and recently fired PP acting leader Uladi Mussa (Salima South) as proposed names.
The DPP, on the other hand, proposed that it would not field candidates in constituencies where PP has strong candidates, said the source.
Another source corroborated the accounts and apparent split in PP, especially the involvement of Banda’s sister, Cecilia Kumpukwe in the negotiation.
Said the source: “In terms of the current structure of PP, it is not as strong. JB doesn’t want to be used so she is protecting herself while the other members are split. Others prefer partnering with Malawi Congress Party ahead of the election to finish DPP while others feel MCP has grown too big and pompous after the by-elections win.”
Minister of Local Government and Rural Development Kondwani Nankhumwa, who is also Leader of the House and DPP campaign director, attended the meeting but was not available to comment.
But a Cabinet minister confirmed that the meeting took place and the two parties agreed to continue with their discussions.
In 2015, UDF relocated from opposition benches to the government side in Parliament, a development that saw the former ruling party losing its voice and identity in the National Assembly. Only Balaka North legislator Lucius Banda refused to move and remains on the opposition side.