Senior members of the governing Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) in the Northern Region on Saturday shunned the launch of the Karonga Diocese’s Seminary Fund at Mubanga in Chitipa where Vice-President Saulos Chilima was guest of honour.
Three senior DPP members were supposed to attend the event according to the programme. They included Minister of Finance, Economic Planning and Development Goodall Gondwe, who is also DPP vice-president (North), and regional governor (North) Kenneth Sanga. The other one was Chitipa Central legislator Clement Fukumere Mukumbwa who is also Deputy Minister of Gender, Children, Disability and Social Welfare.
Ironically, Gondwe and Sanga were last week in Chitipa mobilising chiefs to urge their subjects that President Peter Mutharika should still lead the DPP in the 2019 polls amid calls that Chilima should take over the mantle.
On Saturday, Sanga was at Vuwa Primary School in Karonga Nyungwe Constituency, supporting the parliamentary candidacy of Khwauli Msiska.
However, fired DPP deputy regional governor (North) Afiki Mbewe was at the event. He was dismissed for openly supporting Chilima’s proposed candidacy.
Chilima found solace in Speaker of the National Assembly Richard Msowoya who ironically also shunned his Malawi Congress Party (MCP) convention in Lilongwe to be at the event.
Other politicians at the event included self-declared Alliance for Democracy (Aford) president Frank Mwenifumbo and leader of the Umodzi Party Professor John Chisi.
Mukumbwa said he was not aware of the function in his constituency, saying: “I did not go because I was not aware of it, so I couldn’t go.”
On his part, Gondwe said he was busy working at his office in Lilongwe and had relayed the message to the organisers.
He said: “I was busy and communicated the message, but also I sent something for the fund. I am actually still in Lilongwe.”
This was not the first time that senior DPP officials in the North shunned Chilima’s events. Last month, during the distribution of relief items to flood victims in Karonga, the event was just attended by presidential adviser Nick Masebo, regional director of women (North) Joyce Chikukula and Kifwene Mwakalenga, governor from Karonga, among others.
Political analyst George Phiri of University of Livingstonia has said those shunning Chilima’s events are acting out of fear.
He said: “They think if they attend Chilima’s events, they will be looked at as throwing their allegiance to the VP and that it would not sit well with Mutharika. But this is just fear because, for me, there is nothing wrong with attending such events.”
Former first lady Callista Mutharika sparked the revolution when she said Mutharika, currently 79 years old, would be too old to carry on as he would be 84 at time of leaving office in 2024 if re-elected next year. n