Minister of Local Government and Rural Development Kondwani Nankhumwa and ‘prodigal son’ Salima South legislator Uladi Mussa last night floored their challengers to become Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) vice-presidents for the South and Centre, respectively.
Delegates to the DPP elective convention in Blantyre earlier elected President Peter Mutharika unopposed as national party president and presidential candidate in the 2019 Tripartite Elections.
Cabinet ministers Goodall Gondwe (Finance, Economic Planning and Development) and Bright Msaka (Education, Science and Technology) also went through unopposed as vice-presidents for North and Eastern regions, respectively.
Nankhumwa, who is also Mulanje Central legislator and Leader of the Government Business in Parliament, overcame the challenge from fellow Cabinet ministers Joseph Mwanamvekha (Agriculture, Irrigation and Water Development) and Henry Mussa (Trade, Industry and Tourism).
Nankhumwa amassed 774 votes against 401 for Mussa and 407 for Mwanamvekha.
Uladi got 964 votes to beat former Central Region governor Dean Josaya Banda (298 votes), Zelia Chakale (149 votes), presidential adviser and previous office bearer Hetherwick Ntaba (94 votes) and Minister of Justice and Constitutional Affairs Samuel Tembenu (91 votes).
From the onset it was clear that Nankhumwa and Uladi would carry the day as the mention of their nominations by convention chairperson Nicholas Dausi was welcomed with thunderous applause from a majority of the 1 600 delegates.
On the other hand, some delegates booed in apparent disapproval as Ntaba’s name was mentioned while former vice-president (South) George Chaponda withdrew from the race at the eleventh hour.
Also going through unopposed for their respective positions were: Jappie Mhango (treasurer general), Symon Vuwa Kaunda (director of logistics), Ralph Jooma (director of economic affairs), Evason Chimulilenji (director of campaign) and Charles Mhango (director of legal affairs).
In an interview after being declared the winners, Mussa and Nankhumwa said they would work towards ensuring that DPP remains in government next year.
In his speech during the opening of the convention, President Mutharika pleaded with the losing contestants not to leave the party, saying: “We will find something for you. The party is big enough for everyone.”
Voting spilled into Tuesday to fill some of the remaining positions, including secretary general where incumbent Grezelder Jeffrey faced former DPP administrative secretary Clement Mwale and former deputy minister Wictor Songazaudzu Sajeni.
Another epic battle was expected on the position of publicity secretary where Francis Kasaila was being challenged by the convention chairperson Nicholas Dausi, First Deputy Speaker of Parliament Esther Mcheka-Chilenje and former People’s Party (PP) spokesperson Ken Msonda.