Some senior members of the ruling Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) have declared that President Peter Mutharika will represent the party during the 2019 Tripartite Elections and those harbouring any presidential ambitions must wait for 2024.
Actually, secretary general Greselder Jeffrey said on Saturday during a rally at Livingstonia in Rumphi that “whether Satan wants it or not”, Mutharika will lead DPP in the 2019 polls.
She told supporters to “spit” every time they hear on radio anybody talking against Mutharika’s candidacy in next year’s polls.
However, a political analyst has questioned the thinking, calling it dictatorial and wondering why DPP does not want its convention to decide on the presidential candidate.
The endorsement follows what former first lady Callista Mutharika said recently that Mutharika, 79, would be too old to carry on as he would be 84 at the time of leaving office in 2024 if re-elected next year.
The former first lady argued that it is normal that thinking capacity levels deteriorate as one gets older, and, therefore, favours Vice President Saulos Chilima, 45, to represent DPP in 2019.
The remarks were also supported by DPP national youth director Louis Ngalande, who cautioned Mutharika to tread carefully on representing the party in the 2019 polls, stating he is too old for the job.
But senior DPP gurus that include vice-president for the North Goodall Gondwe, Northern Region governor Kenneth Sanga and Jeffrey have since gone on the offensive.
On Saturday, at Livingstonia where Transport Minister Jappie Mhango launched football and netball competitions, Jeffrey said Mutharika deserves another term for doing a remarkable job.
She said: “I want to tell you that all bigger development projects are in the North, not in the other regions. So, I want to ask you to provide support to Mutharika. When rains fall, there are so many complaints.
“If you here on radio fyofyonyo fyofyonyo, just be spitting! The person representing DPP in 2019, whether Satan wants it or not, is Professor Arthur Peter Mutharika! Actually, all district governors from the North have told me that they are behind Mutharika.”
Speaking before Jeffrey, Sanga said people from the North have never gone mad to miss on choosing a better candidate for the party.
He said they were all behind Mutharika to lead the party until 2024.
In an interview after the rally, Sanga defended their support for Mutharika even before the convention.
He said: “Let me say it here that even in the United States of America, Donald Trump will be an automatic candidate. So, we cannot just change the President because of any other reason. Mutharika must stand for the second time up to 2024.
“We will be electing somebody to fill the gap in 2023 or thereabout, not now! The position of the party in the North, and indeed the entire DPP, is that Professor Arthur Peter Mutharika is our candidate come what may in 2019, no change about that.”
Sanga said the party will not open up for people to compete with Mutharika for the presidency during its convention because “Mutharika must stand for the second time”.
However, the sentiments have not amused Chancellor College political analyst Ernest Thindwa, who has accused the DPP gurus of being dictatorial.
He said the ideal situation is for parties to allow members to give office-bearers a new mandate and that periodically, office-bearers need to seek fresh mandate to continue representing their
“One would expect that as DPP, they would have an arrangement where people compete for positions, including the presidency. Now for some party members, especially senior members, to say they already have a candidate for DPP is unfortunate. We need to have democracy in the party, if there is no democracy in the party, you can be assured that even at national level, there will be no democracy.
“If DPP claims to be a democratic party, they should provide for some democratic space where each and every position will be subject for contestation. Therefore, for some members to say they already have a candidate, is undemocratic and should not be tolerated,” he said.
Thindwa further argued that those endorsing Mutharika should be ashamed of themselves.
He added: “They must be ashamed of themselves because this is dictatorship. There are some forces that still want to be democratic and they would want to impose their will on the majority which is unfortunate. This should be condemned in strongest terms.
“These are people who benefit from the status quo and any change in the status quo, they see their interests being threatened. They will do all they can to protect their interests. It is not that they love Mutharika, but they just want to protect themselves.”
On her part, Mzuzu-based analyst Emily Mkamanga warned that failure to open up the system could be a recipe for chaos.
“If they will not allow people to compete for the presidency, that will be the end of DPP. There will be a lot of noise, chaos, and some may even get injunctions stopping the whole process. Let the party open up, and people should compete.
“Mutharika himself must stand up and be man enough to face anyone who wants the presidency,” she said.
Last week, Finance and Economic Planning Minister Goodall Gondwe said running the President’s office and government affairs is serious business that requires the old who have experience and not “babies” who are novices on State matters.
Earlier, presidential press secretary Mgeme Kalilani earlier told our sister newspaper Weekend Nation that Mutharika will lead the DPP in 2019 Tripartite Elections.
“I do not have a comment, apart from reiterating that President Mutharika will lead the DPP,” he said.