Governing Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) vice-president (South) Kondwani Nankhumwa yesterday condemned his fellow party members for spreading lies and fuelling infighting within the party.
Nankhumwa, who is also Minister of Agriculture, Irrigation and Water Development, was speaking in Chikwawa where President Peter Mutharika was launching the K167 billion Shire Valley Transformation Programme.
Upon his arrival from the United Kingdom (UK) where he attended the inaugural UK-Africa summit in January, Mutharika also condemned political posturing in the party, telling some “camps” to stop canvassing for leadership and rather wait for a convention.
But Nankhumwa’s speech yesterday indicated the divisions still exist despite Mutharika’s call for tolerance within the party leadership.
Speaking in Chichewa in a speech monitored on taxpayer funded Malawi Broadcasting Corporation (MBC) Television, Nankhumwa said the party members need to put their differences aside and stop character assassination if they are to win the fresh election, claiming to be one of the targets of people that do not wish him well within the party.
He said: “This behaviour among party members is worrisome. For instance, they faulted the speech I made at Njamba [Freedom Park], thinking I want to join Malawi Congress Party [MCP] or UTM [Party]. They are creating all sorts of things against me on social media.
“But let me ask all UDF [United Democratic Front] and DPP members to stop spreading these lies and this character assassination so that we should sail through in the forthcoming presidential election.”
Mutharika’s remarks in January came against the background of reports of factions among senior Cabinet ministers and national governing council members canvassing to take over the party’s leadership.
Meanwhile, governance commentator Makhumbo Munthali has said the remarks signal a divided party.
In a written response yesterday, Munthali said: “Those remarks are a clear sign of the prevailing divisions in the party around either the running mate issues or leadership succession plan.”
On his arrival from the UK, Mutharika called for a stop to the apparent camps being created, saying the party members must work together as one family.
Said the President: “You should stop creating the [presidential succession]
camps. Let us wait until 2023 when, as DPP, we will choose a candidate to replace me [at a convention]. Please be patient. For now, APM is the leader of DPP until 2023.”
Last week, DPP announced an electoral alliance with United Democratic Front. However, it is not yet clear who will be Mutharika’s running mate in the forthcoming fresh presidential election.