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50 Members of Parliament back Peter Mutharika

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Over 50 Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) lawmakers Wednesday endorsed President Peter Mutharika as the party’s sole candidate for 2019 but some leading figures, The Daily Times can reveal, refused to support the President.

Chairperson of backbenchers in the National Assembly, Victor Mbewe, said, out of 86 DPP MPs, 51 announced the endorsement, 12 sent their apologies while others are outside the country on official duties but are party to the endorsement.

“We have been receiving questions from our constituents on our stand on the issues happening within the party. So, we didn’t want each Member of Parliament (MP) to be individually responding to such questions,” Mbewe said.

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The support for Mutharika comes after complaints from some lawmakers, who told The Daily Times on Tuesday that they were being forced by DPP secretary general Gresselder Jeffrey and vice president for the South George Chaponda to endorse Mutharika.

“Whoever is a Member of Parliament for the DPP has driven him or herself to this place. You can see the commitment, you can see the loyalty, you can see that we are doing one thing together as one bunch of DPP MPs,” Mbewe said.

But other DPP members have remained resolute and refused to change their stance on supporting Mutharika.

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At a meeting held at Sanjika Palace in Blantyre on Tuesday, Mulanje West MP Patricia Kaliati, director of youth Elias Ngalande and Noel Masangwi refused to change their position to back Mutharika’s candidature.

State House sources told us that Paramount Chief Ngolongoliwa, Mulhakho wa Alhomwe Chairman Leston Mulli and former aide to Mutharika, Ben Phiri, called for the meeting to force Kaliati and company to change their stance.

In a leaked audio clip, Kaliati accuses Mulli and the Paramount Chief of being among the people that advised her and others to back Chilima.

“If Mulli told us to go to Chilima, then we have done it, we will not go back again. We have our own integrity; we have our conscience [to the effect] that we cannot bow to whatever Mulli is doing. If anything, Mulli should go public and tell the nation that he made a mistake but not with us. We were up in arms with Ngolongoliwa and Mulli and they knew that we are not there to joke…,” Kaliati is heard as saying in the WhatsApp audio

This is a second leaked audio clip that has exposed the infighting in DPP over who leads them into next year’s elections between Chilima and his boss, Mutharika.

Two weeks ago, a leaked audio exposed how the Chilima movement is gaining ground within the party. In the clip, party secretary general, Jeffrey, is heard talking to Local Government Minister Kondwani Nankhumwa.

Conspicuously absent at the endorsement meeting were MPs Bon Kalindo of Mulanje South, Noel Masangwi of Blantyre City East and Allan Ngumuya of Blantyre City South. The three publicly backed Chilima last month.

Notable MPs who were part of the endorsement meeting are ministers Joseph Mwanamvekha, Jean Kalilani, Anna Kachikho, Francis Kasaila and Jappie Mhango, DPP Secretary General Gresselder Jeffrey, Deputy Speaker of Parliament Esther Mcheka Chilenje, Allan Chiyembekeza, and Peter Kumpalume.

Mwanamvekha took time to dispute the social media reports that he is part of the Chilima camp and Kumpalume said those who claim that Mutharika is old have never seen how active he is when chairing Cabinet meetings.

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