Democratic Progressive Party vice-president (South) Kondwani Nankhumwa yesterday obtained an injunction stopping the party from holding a disciplinary hearing against him.
The party summoned Nankhumwa last Friday to a hearing, but the Mulanje Central legislator did not show up as he was bereaved. Hence, forcing the party to reschedule the hearing to yesterday.
DPP, through secretary for the disciplinary committee Charles Mhango, first wrote Nankhumwa on January 19 this year to appear for the hearing on January 26 at Crown Hotel in Lilongwe.
The party accuses Nankhumwa of breaking party rules by using a portrait of the late Bingu wa Mutharika, instead of the current party leader Arthur Peter Mutharika (APM), on a campaign poster.
He is also accused of insulting APM, who had opposed the usage of the portrait, in a statement issued on January 5.
Reads the charge: “Undermining the Authority of the President of the Party and disrespecting the President contrary to Article 6 (1) (v) and (Vii) of the DPP Constitution.”
According to Mhango’s letter, the hearing would accord Nankhumwa an opportunity to be heard, before a recommendation is made to the central committee for a verdict.
However, Nankhumwa, who is also Leader of Opposition in Parliament, obtained an injunction against it.
Through lawyer Gilbert Khonyongwa, he made an application before High Court Judge William Msiska in Lilongwe against the disciplinary hearing, and the Judge issued the injunction yesterday.
It reads in part: “It is ordered that the defendants, its agents or servants refrain from proceeding with, carrying out with, or executing the disciplinary hearing against the claimant pending determination of the substantive matter or further order of the court.
“If the defendant is not contesting the proceedings but desires to apply for a stay of execution, the defendant shall file Response within 14 days of service indicating his intention not to contest the proceedings and his intention to apply for a stay of execution.”
In an interview yesterday, Nankhumwa claims the disciplinary hearing was poised to suspend him so that he is not available when the party’s national governing council (NGC) meets in February.
He said he suspects APM wants to mobilise support to call for an early convention, where he will contest for a third term and, after winning, will surrender the party to his preferred successor.
Nankhumwa said: “At the NGC meeting in February, they want to discuss an early convention, where APM wants to seek a third term. So, at the NGC he would be asking for support, that is why you have seen that recently, they appointed 30 people into the NGC to support the move.
“Which means, if I attend the hearing, get suspended, I won’t attend the NGC. APM will proceed with his wishes and after going to the convention and win, he will later call for an NGC where he will step down and ask it to elect or simply endorse his preferred successor.”
The embattled DPP vice-president also said the composition of the central committee and the disciplinary committee is already in court for determination.
Nankhumwa has since served the injunction on fellow embattled DPP secretary general Greselder Jeffrey.
On October 3 2020, Nankhumwa, Jeffrey, Jappie Mhango and Mulanje West legislator Yusuf Nthenda were expelled from the party for allegedly influencing the rejection of APM’s appointment of former Nsanje Central legislator Francis Kasaila as Leader of Opposition in Parliament to replace Nankhumwa.
The four successfully obtained court relief stopping DPP from sacking them from their positions and expelling them from the party.
DPP spokesperson Shadreck Namalomba yesterday said their lawyers led by Charles Mhango are working to vacate the injunction. n
“There is no scheme whatsoever against Nankhumwa,” he said.
Namalomba said party’s positions were filled because there were vacancies, and the central committee has the power to fill them.
“The party president is going to be there until 2022 during our next convention. The talk about an early convention will never happen, because the convention is in 2023,” he said.
Cracks in DPP came to light after Secretary General Greselder Jeffrey told The Nation that Mutharika had done his part and that the party needed a new person to lead it into the future.
Mutharika lost the court-ordered June 23 2020 Fresh Presidential Election to the nine-party Tonse Alliance led by MCP president Lazarus Chakwera who partnered Mutharika’s then estranged Vice-President Saulos Chilima of UTM Party.
Mutharika took over the leadership of DPP after the death of his brother, Bingu wa Mutharika in April 2012, propelling the party to victory in the 2014 Tripartite Elections.