Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) vice-president (South) George Chaponda has dismissed accusations that he is one of the senior party officials allegedly misleading President Peter Mutharika on his candidacy for the 2019 Tripartite Elections.
The Mulanje South-West legislator told Tiuzeni Zoona programme on Zodiak Broadcasting Station (ZBS) yesterday: “What is happening in DPP is what we call democracy. The President has not broken any law by expressing his intention to contest for a second term. [Those] people are free to express themselves as they please in democratic Malawi but their claims have no basis. It is all jealousy.”
Chaponda also reiterated his support for Mutharika’s candidacy in the 2019 polls despite his refusal to mention the position he would personally be vying for when the party holds its much-awaited convention which is yet to be scheduled.
“Tikaona komweko… Nanga panthawi ino tiyambe kunena sitinayambe even kampeni…Tikaona komweko [We will cross the bridge when we finally get there. We have not even started our party campaigns and it is too early to say],” he added.
But Chaponda, who is on record as having said Mutharika will go unopposed at the convention, could not be drawn to elaborate on when the DPP would specifically hold its convention to elect new office-bearers.
Recently, Blantyre City East legislator and a member of the DPP national governing council (NGC) Noel Masangwi singled out Chaponda as being part of the DPP gurus manoeuvring internal squabbles in the party ahead of the May 2019 Tripartite Elections.
In his open letter issued last month, Masangwi claimed that Chaponda was part of a team of presidential advisers purportedly confusing Mutharika on the party’s political track to the polls.
Masangwi’s stance followed similar sentiments by former first lady Callista Mutharika, who earlier stunned the nation by declaring that Mutharika was being misled by those close to him. She further suggested a feasible succession plan ahead of the polls, stating that age was slowly betraying her brother-in-law’s political life.
In his letter, Masangwi also urged Mutharika to call a national governing council (NGC) meeting as a matter of urgency where intraparty woes affecting the party can be resolved. The party’s director of youth Louis Ngalande earlier disclosed that Mutharika has not called an NGC meeting since 2013, raising questions regarding how and who makes decisions, including appointments of some NGC members.
Until today, the governing party remains embroiled in the contentious standoff over who between Mutharika and Vice-President Saulos Chilima should represent the party in the 2019 presidential elections, a feud that has divided the party into two factions.
Mutharika is facing an unprecedented resistance for an incumbent from some DPP members canvassing for Chilima’s candidacy.
In his remarks during the opening of the 30th Malawi International Trade Fair in Blantyre on Thursday, the President said he cannot be intimidated. He said a political party is made of people from the grass roots who have been behind him since the death of his brother and founding DPP president Bingu wa Mutharika.
Carefully choosing his words and avoiding mentioning names, Mutharika claimed some DPP members were plotting to sell the party to the opposition, a thing he said will not hold as DPP was not up for sale.
In the run-up to the May 20 2014 Tripartite Elections, Chilima took many people by surprise when he resigned from his lucrative job as Airtel Malawi managing director in the private sector to join active politics as Mutharika’s running mate. His gamble paid dividends when the pair triumphed in the elections.
Several DPP NGC members, including legislators Patricia Kaliati (Mulanje West and national director of women), Bon Kalindo (Mulanje South), Masangwi, Allan Ngumuya (Blantyre City South), Malison Ndau (Ntcheu Central), Ngalande and suspended deputy regional governor (North) Afiki Mbewe have openly supported Chilima’s candidacy.
However, Chilima has remained silent on the issue.
Last week, DPP vice-president (Centre) Hetherwick Ntaba was equally evasive on the schedule for the convention, telling a local radio that he had no information as to when the party would elect its new leaders.
So far main opposition Malawi Congress Party (MCP) and the Alliance for Democracy (Aford) are the only political parties that have held conventions although the processes were controversial.