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DPP acts on Kondwani Nankhumwa

Removes him from Leader of Opposition role

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NAMALOMBA—We cannot be operating the party in court

A meeting of Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) members of Parliament (MPs) at former president Peter Mutharika’s Page House in Mangochi District Sunday ‘resolved’ to replace Kondwani Nankhumwa with George Chaponda as Leader of the Opposition in the august House.

However, Nankhumwa’s lawyer Cassius Chidothe accused Mutharika and others who organised the meeting as being in contempt of court.

Chidothe told The Daily Times that the leadership has disobeyed a court order, in which it said Nankhumwa, DPP secretary-general Grezelder Jeffrey and others should be treated as part of leadership and not sidelined.

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On whether Mutharika and others will be dragged to court, Chidothe said they will wait on advice from Nankhumwa.

“Our client will advise us on what happens next but, based on the law, our client has the right to apply to court for contempt of court proceedings and, if our client will advise us to do the paper work, we will proceed as such,” he said.

Mutharika’s spokesperson Shadric Namalomba confirmed in an interview that the meeting took place and that the decision has been made to strengthen the party in the National Assembly ahead of the 2025 general elections.

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“The meeting had two agendas, one of which was to share with the MPs results of the functional review exercise which the party undertook. Honourable Bright Msaka presented the report to the MPs. We also reminded the MPs about our party’s culture and plans we have to reclaim power in 2025,” Namalomba said.

Namalomba said the MPs are of the view that the party’s leadership in Parliament cannot help it, if nothing is done to improve the quality of the party’s leadership in Parliament.

“As such, the MPs proposed changes to the parliamentary leadership such that they appointed Chaponda as the new Leader of the Opposition, Vuwa Kaunda as the new Chief Whip, with Chijere Chirwa as his deputy. Victor Musowa has been appointed as the new leader for Backbenchers, deputised by Victoria Kingston,” Namalomba said.

With these changes, Namalomba said Malawians should expect a renewed DPP, rife with potential to reorganise and wrestle power from the current administration.

However, Nankhumwa did not attend the meeting and some MPs were conspicuously missing, notably Ralph Jooma, Joyce Chitsulo, Welani Chilenga, and Sameer Suleman just to mention but a few.

In an interview before the meeting, Nankhumwa said he and about 30 other MPs were not invited to the meeting.

But Namalomba said all MPs were invited, such that those who did not come had their reasons.

“We had about 35 MPs at the meeting and all of them have agreed to the new appointments. The party will inform the Speaker [of Parliament] about the new changes. We also expect the new Leader of Opposition to appoint DPP MPs into committees before the next meeting of Parliament,” he said.

Earlier, Chidothe had asked Mutharika not to proceed with the meeting, saying it was against the court order which was issued by the High Court in Blantyre.

But Namalomba said the changes are in line with the laws that govern political parties in Malawi.

“We cannot be operating the party in court. We will solve the problems within the laws outside the court. Malawians should know that the DPP has now started its journey towards 2025,” he said.

But in an interview, DPP spokesperson in Parliament Mark Botomani said what Mutharika and the MPs did in Mangochi will not change anything regarding the composition of the party’s leadership in Parliament.

Botomani, who said he was also speaking on behalf of Nankhumwa, said the DPP had violated Standing Orders that dictate how a Leader of Opposition is elected by his party, hence the Page House meeting participants’ decision is void.

“The Standing Orders provide that there should be a quorum of all MPs of the party when choosing a Leader of Opposition. The current Leader of Opposition should also be available during the choosing of his successor. But all these did not happen, such that honourable Nankhumwa will continue to be our Leader of Opposition in Parliament,” Botomani said.

He also warned Mutharika and other party leaders not to disobey court orders, especially after the courts reinstated Nankhumwa as the Leader of the Opposition.

“We will continue to engage them as well as differ, or fight, with anybody who is not following what the party’s followers want. Nankhumwa is our Leader of Opposition,” he said.

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

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