Members of the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) youth wing yesterday castigated their director Louis Ngalande and demanded that he resigns or apologise for stating that President Peter Mutharika should not seek re-election in the 2019 general elections.
At a heated press briefing at the party’s headquarters in Lilongwe, the youths said they were shocked by Ngalande’s siding with former first lady Callista Mutharika’s sentiments that 79-year-old Mutharika is old and should retire and pave the way for youthful Vice-President Saulos Chilima, 45, as DPP’s presidential candidate in next year’s polls.
The youths also warned Callista—who is an in-law to the President and widow of DPP founding leader Bingu wa Mutharika—to stop mixing family issues with politics. They branded people who agree with Callista’s sentiments as insignificant in the party who should be ignored.
The party’s national deputy youth director Mussa Daitoni, flanked by all four DPP regional youth directors, said Ngalande lied when he claimed in the media last week that the proposal to replace Mutharika was supported by the party’s youths.
He said: “Our presidential candidate for 2019 is APM [Mutharika]. What Ngalande was saying was his opinion, not that of the youths in the party. He was expressing his own opinion; if he is tired, he should resign.”
Efforts to talk to Ngalande on the matter proved futile as his mobile phone could not be reached.
Earlier, presidential adviser on youth affairs Symon Vuwa Kaunda downplayed the fact that even DPP parliamentarians, notably Bon Kalindo (Mulanje South) and Allan Ngumuya (Blantyre City South), are supporting the move to have Chilima as the party’s torchbearer in next year’s elections.
He said Kalindo is a comedian by profession and should not be taken seriously. He also said Ngumuya is a musician and a political lightweight both in his constituency and in the party.
During the press briefing, the party officials refused to explain the significance of impromptu pro-Chilima support at Kamuzu International Airport in Lilongwe soon after Mutharika’s plane took off for a two-week trip to the United Kingdom on Sunday.
They also dodged The Nation’s question on whether they would join other youths and observers who have roundly condemned Minister of Finance, Economic planning and Development Goodall Gondwe for recently referring to youthful leaders as “babies” who cannot be presidents because the presidency is for old and mature people.
This was the fourth press briefing different DPP members have hosted to try and quash and counter Callista’s remarks, which have triggered a political tsunami in the ruling party.
Analysts have expressed mixed reactions on the matter. Some say the party is testing the political waters to see the reaction of people, while others see intra-party intolerance and stress three is need for the party to take people’s opinions seriously.