People’s Party (PP) national executive committee (NEC) is set to meet in Lilongwe on Monday to clarify on the future of its coalition with the governing Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) which has divided the party.
A political commentator has since commended the agenda item, saying it would free PP supporters to decide on whether to endorse such a relationship.
In an interview on Thursday, PP spokesperson Noah Chimpeni said the party, whose two-year stint in government ended following its loss in the May 20 2014 Tripartite Elections, remains divided following the initial meeting between the DPP leadership, including President Peter Mutharika, and PP legislators in November.
He said: “From what has transpired in the meetings we held in the regions, people are confused about the status of their party, on whether we are working with the DPP or not. There will be these reports on the agenda.”
Chimpeni said while the party has made it clear that they are not working with the DPP, a decision of the NEC would be proper.
The NEC meeting will bring together the party leadership, from within and outside Parliament, to hash out the way forward following disagreements which have erupted since November.
Reacting to the development, associate professor Happy Kayuni of University of Malawi’s Chancellor College said it is normal for political parties to shy away from clearly defining coalitions for their own individual benefit.
He said failure to clarify the status benefitted PP 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.
During that meeting, PP told the DPP to consult the party’s self-exiled leader Joyce Banda, but before the talks could resume, some members of Parliament (MPs) already started supporting the governing party on issues in Parliament.
DPP said it opted to meet MPs first before the PP NEC, a decision which made the executive believe that the ruling party wanted a parliamentary coalition to beef up its numbers and defeat the Electoral Reforms Bills.
DPP already has a working relationship in Parliament with United Democratic Front (UDF) whose president, Atupele Muluzi, was drafted into Mutharika’s Cabinet in 2004.
The development split UDF, especially in the National Assembly where it lost its voice and identity, with its then leader in Parliament and Balaka North MP Lucius Banda refusing to move to the government benches.
Joyce Banda’s absence has created cracks in the PP rank and file where several leaders, including acting president Uladi Mussa and former provincial governor (North) the Reverend Christopher Mzomera Ngwira, being fired from the party.