People’s Party (PP) national executive committee (NEC) went on the offensive yesterday, declaring the party is not in any working relationship or coalition with governing Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) or any other political party in opposition ranks.
During a NEC meeting in Lilongwe yesterday, PP, ousted from government through the May 20 2014 Tripartite Elections after a two-year stint, also resolved to expel hitherto suspended interim leader Uladi Mussa for the offence of bringing the party into disrepute.
Announcing the resolutions in an interview after the meeting last night, PP spokesperson Noah Chimpeni said the party’s NEC resolved that any PP legislator siding with DPP or any other political party in Parliament would be deemed to have crossed the floor.
He said: “Any member who is deemed to be supporting DPP and once we gather enough evidence, the Speaker will be informed accordingly and Section 65 [of the Constitution which regulates crossing of the floor] will apply. If members [of Parliament] thought that as we are approaching the elections [in 2019], Section 65 is useless, the party’s resolution is that we should still invoke it.”
Further, the PP NEC declared that the party’s members of Parliament (MPs) who supported the DPP to defeat Electoral Reforms Bills did so in their own capacities as legislators and not as a party.
Said Chimpeni: “The working relationship was in Parliament between members who supported DPP during that meeting, but the position of the party was not to support any party. Our stand as a party was to vote ‘yes’ to the bills.”
Mussa’s dismissal means that PP has no leader in the absence of president Joyce Banda who has been outside the country since losing the May 20 2014 Tripartite Elections.
Yesterday’s meeting lasted close to eight hours and brought together several members of the party’s NEC, but conspicuously missing was the PP vice-president for Eastern Region Ralph Jooma, the Mangochi Monkey Bay legislator who has since been dismissed from his position.
Jooma’s transgression was to speak in favour of working with the DPP during President Peter Mutharika’s visit to the Eastern Region last week.
The PP NEC also found evidence of a placard in Jooma’s constituency which declared that he was for DPP, according to Chimpeni.
He said Jooma, who relinquished his position as PP chief whip in Parliament, would be summoned to a disciplinary hearing to defend himself even though he has already been removed as vice-president as he remains a member of the party.
Reacting to his removal and pending hearing, Jooma last evening said he found the decision erroneous considering that he has already been removed before being heard.
He said he would not attend the disciplinary hearing if he is called to explain himself.
Said Jooma: “But I receive it wholeheartedly. I have enjoyed being a PP member and rising to such high ranks. My life will not stop even if I am removed from PP completely.”
However, he admitted to commending Mutharika for what he called the good work he has done in turning around the economy.
The PP NEC has since appointed Kasungu North MP Beatrice Mwale as vice-president for Central Region replacing Mussa while Banda’s son, Roy Kachale, who is Zomba Malosa MP, has replaced Jooma as vice-president for the Eastern Region. On the other hand, Edith Mtunga has been appointed director of women in place of Mwale.
The PP constitution states that in the absence or incapacity of both the president and the first vice-president, duties of the president shall be performed by the second vice-president, or in his absence, the third vice-president.
This means that Mwale, Kachale and vice-president for the North Kamlepo Kalua, Rumphi East MP, are eligible to become interim leader in the absence of the president, Banda.
However, the party has not disciplined the MPs who went against the resolution to vote for the Electoral Reforms Bills and were either absent, voted against the continuation of the bills to another stage or abstained from the vote.
Mussa, who could not be reached for comment last evening, has allegedly been telling members of PP that the party was in a coalition with DPP, an action which Chimpeni said had led to his ouster.
“He has acted in a manner that has brought the party into disrepute. He has been confusing our members that PP is in an alliance with DPP. Our members have been confused long enough, now he will have the opportunity to do as he pleases but not for PP,” he said.
Commenting on the developments, Chancellor College associate professor Happy Kayuni told The Nation that it was commendable that PP was making its position clear unlike other political parties who shy away from clearly defining coalitions for their own individual benefit.
He said failure to clarify the status benefitted the party and the DPP more than the nation.
“The relationship is undefined and it is good for them to remain like that but not for the nation. This is disadvantaging the electorate and more importantly those supporting the parties because the leaders are taking them for granted, they are just pushing them around to support something they don’t fully understand,” Kayuni said. n