Embattled democratic Progressive Party (DPP) secretary general (SG) Greselder Jeffrey and vice-president (South) Kondwani Nankhumwa have rejected the creation of new structures within the party.
The two in interviews on Sunday said they suspected that some senior officials in the Southern Region want to create 12 more political districts as one way of canvassing votes for a certain presidential candidate ahead of the 2024 convention.
The action comes just a week after the DPP, through administrative secretary Francis Mphepo, reversed dismissals it effected on Jeffrey, Nankhumwa, treasurer general Jappie Mhango and Mulanje West legislator Yusuf Nthenda.
The four were fired for allegedly influencing the rejection of DPP leader Peter Mutharika’s nominee, former Nsanje Central legislator Francis Kasaila, whom the former president earmarked to replace Nankhumwa as Leader of Opposition in Parliament.
Jeffrey has since written the party’s four vice-presidents, advising them that creating district structures is against the party’s constitution.
In the letter dated August 20, the DPP SG has also asked regional governors to submit to her office reports on the status of the party, as per Article 11 (10) of the DPP constitution, which requires the governors to submit such reports every three months.
Reads the letter in part: “I write to remind you that it is against our own party constitution, under sub-heading organisation structure, on items 6 and 7, that the mandate to form a new district or change the boundary of existing district is the preserve of the central committee.
“It has come to the attention of my office that some regions are creating structures without the knowledge of the central committee. I wish to categorically state that those structures that have purportedly been created without the mandate of the central committee as indicated above, will not be recognised anywhere within our institution.”
Under Article 11, the DPP constitution grants the Central Committee powers to establish and change such committees and structures at regional and district level.
In a separate interview on Sunday, Jeffrey said such structures will not be recognised, insisting only the Central Committee has powers to sanction such restructuring in liaison with the National Governing Council (NGC).
On his part, Nankhumwa, who is eyeing the party’s presidency alongside former Reserve Bank of Malawi governor Dalitso Kabambe, said there are certain people who want to create confusion in the party.
He said: “I have received the letter and I fully support the SG in this. There are some people that want to create new structures to favour some candidates.
“But the party‘s constitution is clear; the Central Committee sanctions such changes and passes that suggestion to the NGC which confirms.”
In an interview on Sunday, DPP vice-president for the Central Region Zelia Chakale, who confirmed receiving the letter, said the matter was “an internal issue.”
But DPP Eastern and Northern vice-presidents Bright Msaka and Goodall Gondwe, respectively, were both not available for comment.
Catholic University of Malawi head of political studies at the Chimwemwe Kandodo said events in the DPP were unfortunate and points to greed among the top leaders.
She said: “This is unfortunate. As a main opposition party, they were supposed to take time to clean up the house, in readiness for 2025. They needed to strengthen the party, if they want to return to power.
“They need to move in the same direction, choose a candidate, letting the supporters do that without creating room for particular individuals.”
Kandodo warned that if squabbles continue, people will lose trust in the party.
Earlier, Mzuzu University-based political analyst Chrispin Mphande also warned that procrastination on organising a convention is dangerous for DPP.
“They need to hold it early enough so that the party leads with one person as its pilot.”
Recently, DPP set up a special committee to conduct a functional review to make recommendations on how the party can move forward.
In its report, the committee warned that divisions are condemning the party to its slow death and doubted if the party’s main leadership organ, the Central Committee, is behaving in the interest of the party.
DPP lost in the court-ordered fresh presidential election on June 23 2020.
Mutharika took over DPP leadership after the death of his elder brother, Bingu, in April 2012, propelling the party to victory in the May 2014 Tripartite Elections.