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DPP crisis deepens

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Blantyre City East lawmaker, Noel Masangwi, is considering ways of avoiding more infighting in the ruling Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) over who is the suitable presidential candidate between Vice- President Saulos Chilima and President Peter Mutharika as the crisis deepens in the party and threatens its chances of winning the elections next year.

Mutharika turns 80 next year while Chilima will be 46 years old, a scenario that has ignited debate in the party after former first lady, Callista Mutharika, warned the party that it would lose if it fielded the incumbent because he is old.

“Our president should be advised to call a NGC [National Governing Council] meeting as a matter of urgency where these issues should be resolved. Those people calling for the Chilima’s candidacy next year should not just be dismissed outright; they should also be given a fair hearing because they are bona-fide members [of the party] with every right to be heard,” reads part of a WhatsApp message making rounds on social media.

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Masangwi—who declined to comment when we contacted him to know who he prefers between the two leaders— writes that the President must be advised to call for an urgent National Governing Council (NGC) meeting to quell the crisis because it threatens the party’s chances of winning the election next year.

In a write-up leaked from the DPP National Governing Council (NGC) WhatsApp group, Masangwi says “it seems anyone can just wake up and hold a press conference to speak for the party on the candidature of Saulos Chilima or President Peter Mutharika.

“There is just a cacophony of voices and it is hard to discern as to which message is which. The mixed messages are only confusing our members and making us look like we are leaderless with no proper direction. There was a press conference by the so-called senior members of the party, including the so-called regional vice presidents; another one by regional youths; another one by representative of women, another one by the Northern Region representatives. This is simply wrong,” reads part of the leaked message.

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“ Those people calling for the Chilima’s candidacy next year should not just be dismissed outright; they should also be given a fair hearing because they are bona-fide members [of the party] with every right to be heard,” reads the write up.

He writes that shadow-boxing that is currently raging through the party must not be allowed to go on at any cost.

“Time is certainly not on our side because we need to redirect our energies towards fighting a common enemy,” he says

But when The Daily Times pressed him yesterday to authenticate the WhatsApp message, he said: “I will not comment on the matter because it is an in-house issue and someone has just leaked it.”

Masangwi’s sentiments come after two lawmakers in Blantyre and Mulanje— Allan Ngumuya and Bon Kalindo, respectively — came out in the open and endorsed Chilima.

Louis Ngalande, the party’s national director of youth, also openly endorsed the Vice President.

Masangwi backed Ngalande on the issue of going to the media, suggesting that, perhaps, the youth director decided to go to the media because the party has no forum where members could air their views openly.

“Ngalande’s reasons that he went to the media because the party did not provide a forum where members can air out their concerns is quite legitimate,” reads the message.

“The so-called senior members said they conducted their press conference as representatives of NGC. I ask, which NGC? Some of us are also members of DPP’s NGC but we were not consulted. In fact, Ngalande can say he was speaking on behalf of NGC because he is also an NGC member. Now which NGC is which?”

Masangwi writes that the solution is not to call for a press conference to demonise Ngalande.

“These so-called senior people are misleading the President. Are they the ones advising him not to call for an NGC meeting? What are they afraid of?”

Last week, George Chaponda, flanked by Information Minister Nicholas Dausi and Presidential aide Francis Mphepo and other senior members in the Southern Region, said Mutharika is an automatic candidate for 2019 and does not need delegates’ votes.

Chaponda could not pick up our calls when we attempted to find out his response to Masangwi’s accusation that he is misleading the President.

“The in-fighting is doing us more harm than good; we may just end up giving government to others on a silver platter.”Masangwi said.

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