The Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) third elective national convention ended at Comesa Hall in Blantyre yesterday with disbelief being the catchword for some senior party members who crashed during the elections.
There were stunning defeats for some prominent and veteran DPP politicians, especially those that were vying for the party’s second topmost position of vice-president at regional level.
Some of the major electoral casualties in the hotly contested election included four Cabinet ministers—Henry Mussa (Trade, Industry and Tourism), Joseph Mwanamvekha (Agriculture, Irrigation and Water Development), Francis Kasaila (Labour, Youth, Sports and Manpower Development) and Samuel Tembenu (Justice and Constitutional Affairs); presidential adviser Hetherwick Ntaba and First Deputy Speaker of Parliament Esther Mcheka Chilenje.
But reacting to their losses, some of the hopefuls said they were not bitter with the outcome of the results and would work together with the victors to further strengthen their party.
Said Mussa: “In any situation where people are competing one must emerge a winner. Therefore, in my case the fact that Honourable Nankhumwa won is not an issue. It was actually commendable and I congratulate him.
“This is nothing. The important thing is that we are a family and we shall, round the clock, work together to develop the DPP. He is also assured of my support because of my institutional memory and experience. As a party, our objective is to win the 2019 elections and continue ruling the country.”
He lost the position of vice-president (South) to Nankhumwa. The position was held by former Agriculture minister George Chaponda who withdrew from the race minutes before voting started.
Chaponda told The Daily Times he withdrew from contesting because he felt competing with Nankhumwa, who is his neighbour, was not in the interest and spirit of unity in the party.
But Mcheka-Chilenje, who was competing on the position of publicity secretary, said coming second to Nicholas Dausi was a plus.
She said: “He was chairperson of the convention [Dausi] so he had an added advantage because he was interacting with the delegates time and again. Nevertheless, I accepted the results and I am ready to work together because our aim is to fight one battle and win the 2019 polls.”
On his part, Nankhumwa said he was extending an olive branch to his two competitors because they all belong to “one big family of the DPP.”
“I know they have ideas on how we can run our party. So, I am sending an olive branch to them, including Dr Chaponda who held the position. I will pursue unity of purpose regardless of anything. We must work together to win the elections,” he said.
During the elections, delegates also elected Chimwemwe Chipungu, who is a civil servant working with Ministry of Health, as national organising secretary.
His election comes barely days after Chief Secretary in the Office of the President and Cabinet Lloyd Muhara issued a circular requesting all civil servants wishing to participate in active politics to resign.
when asked what he thought about his situation, Chipungu said: “I cannot comment more but if time comes for me sections can be applied if I am wrong to practice politics while working in government or there is no compromise between the two jobs that I will be having.”
However, Chipungu also said he was a contracted civil servant and Section 193 of the Constitution provides that only Parliament can decide the fate of a civil servant who is practicing politics depending on the position that the specific civil servant is holding.