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Court stops George Chaponda

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kondwani nankhumwa

The battle for the position of Leader of Opposition in Parliament rages, after 22 Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) members of Parliament (MPs) obtained a court injunction stopping newly appointed leader, George Chaponda, from acting in or holding the position.

The High Court sitting in Lilongwe granted the injunction, according to the MPs’ lawyer Wapona Kita.

“The election of Chaponda was in violation of the MPs’ political right to vote for a Leader of Opposition as the lawmakers were not invited,” Kita said.

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Judge Kenyatta Nyirenda has set July 7 2022 as the day for an inter-partes hearing.

On Sunday, at a meeting held at former president Peter Mutharika’s Page House in Mangochi District, some party legislators elected Chaponda to replace Kondwani Nankhumwa as Leader of the Opposition in Parliament.

Mutharika leads the party while Nankhumwa is DPP Southern Region vice president.

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Despite efforts by Nankhumwa to stop the meeting from proceeding on Sunday, it proceeded, culminating in Chaponda being elected to the position.

However, 22 MPs of the party, who were not present at the meeting on Sunday, have obtained the restraining order.

Ironically, Chaponda got recognition from the Clerk of Parliament.

“The first defendant, Hon Dr George Chaponda, MP, is hereby restrained from acting or holding out as Leader of Opposition in or outside Malawi Parliament.

“The second defendant is hereby restrained from recognising the first defendant as a Leader of Opposition from its party. The second defendant is hereby further restrained from implementing its decision of electing the first defendant as Leader of Opposition for Malawi Parliament,” the injunction reads.

University of Malawi-based political analyst Mustapha Hussein described the situation as unfortunate.

He said never-ending wrangles would continue to weaken the party.

“What is happening in the DPP will continue to weaken the performance of the party and, if this continues in the coming years, it may cost them a lot because they, as a party in opposition, are supposed to show their readiness to rule the country and, as such, their failure to resolve internal conflicts shows a weakness of the party,” he said.

Meanwhile, Parliament recognised Chaponda as the new Leader of Opposition.

In an invitation letter to the Business Committee— as Parliament prepares to meet for the sixth meeting in the 49th session— Clerk of Parliament Fiona Kalemba addresses and congratulates Chaponda as the Leader of Opposition.

Efforts to speak to Shadric Namalomba, Mutharika’s spokesperson, proved futile as he could not pick up our calls.

In May this year, the High Court ruled that Nankhumwa, Grezelder Jeffrey and others, who by then were suspended from the party, should be treated as part of the party concerning their positions such as secretary-general, Southern Region vice president and Leader of Opposition in Parliament.

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