Hon. Folks, the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) is still burdened with acute political diarrhoea inflicted by one Kondwani Nankhumwa who leads the party in Parliament.
Recently, Nankhumwa, who doubles as Leader of Opposition in the August House and DPP vice-president for the South, opened a can of worms after he announced a 33-member shadow Cabinet that rendered some top party legislators useless.
This drama hit the climax on March 7 when Nankhumwa ‘fired’ Joseph Mwanamvekha (Chiradzulu South) and Bright Msaka (Machinga Lukwenu)―close allies of DPP leader Peter Mutharika and his (Nankhumwa’s) 2025 DPP presidential rival from their portfolios as party spokespersons on finance and legal affairs in Parliament, respectively.
Instead, Nankhumwa, who fell out with Mutharika over leadership succession appointed his own loyalists Ralph Jooma (Mangochi Monkey Bay) and Yusuf Nthenda (Mulanje West) to take over from Mwanamveka and Msaka, respectively.
This reconstruction of DPP’s line-up in Parliament, particularly the ‘firing’ of the two did not only catch the Mutharika camp pants down, but it was also a big blow to Mwanamvekha who was ‘sacked’ just hours before he took to the podium to officially respond to the 2022-23 National Budget (presented in February by Finance Minister Sosten Gwengwe) on behalf of DPP.
Obviously, the ex-Finance minister in the DPP administration had spent sleepless moments preparing for his response planned for that particular Monday afternoon, only to hear about the sudden changes. A real thorn in the flesh definitely.
Much as it is not in my interest to write about DPP problems every week, there are many goings-on inside the party, including baby fights among senior leaders that cannot be ignored. I am also aware that this succession battle in the DPP, especially the power struggle in Parliament has reached the courts hence not dwelling much on the practical details.
But even with that, this drama still took another twist later this week after Mutharika issued a new seating plan for opposition MPs in Parliament following a court injunction obtained by his personal and party spokesperson Shadric Namalomba blocking Nankhumwa’s earlier re-arrangements.
The former State president reportedly moved Nankhumwa to the back and allocated his seat to another DPP presidential aspirant also favoured by Mutharika, George Chaponda (Mulanje South-West) from the back to the middle seats traditionally occupied by the Leaders of opposition in Parliament.
As if this was not enough, First Deputy Speaker of Parliament Madalitso Kazombo would later say his office was yet to receive communication from Mutharika re-adjusting the seating plan for opposition lawmakers Parliament despite earlier indications that the Attorney General’s office had advised the House to abide by a court injunction stopping changes in the seating plan by Nankhumwa.
Honourable folk, this is the trouble that DPP has degenerated into since losing elections almost two years ago and certainly this mess is partly sponsored by Mutharika himself who has failed to demonstrate leadership by ending the bickering among different camps that have emerged right in front of his own eyes.
Now DPP’s only visible strength lies in Parliament where Nankhumwa is the main man while its biggest weakness is in the party’s national governing council, which is headed by Mutharika and a number of his loyalists. Further debate now also focuses on the question of whether we might be witnessing the death of DPP before 2025 just as some previous ruling party lost its smell after parting ways with DPP in 2005.
And will ardent DPP supporters stick with this somewhat sinking ship even in these tough times ahead of the 2025 elections? This I leave to you to answer, but certainly the erosion of democracy in DPP is worrying for party supporters and followers and raises more red flags on DPP’s objectives.
The other day I said change of leadership is desirable in this party and that change is needed now because it may help the party regain its lost glory politically and this can only be realised if DPP deals away with political spent forces whose only goal is to acquire leadership positions.
Yes, DPP can die before 2025 and those fighting for key leadership positions, including Mutharika must never misjudge the party’s miserable performance in recent elections because this could as well be an omen for the party’s future prospects.