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DPP grass roots start push for convention

Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) in Blantyre District have asked party leaders to call for a convention, saying they do not want leaders to impose candidates on them.

The over 50 members made their position clear during an extraordinary meeting senior officials from Blantyre District and Kabula Constituency held in Blantyre yesterday.

Regional organising secretary for the South, who is also member of DPP’s National Governing Council, Henry Matemba, said it is sad that party leader Peter Mutharika insists that he will be the party’s candidate in the forthcoming elections despite calls for him to pave the way for Vice-President Saulos Chilima.

“We convened the meeting to make a call to the party’s top leaders to be democratic. The time of imposing leaders into positions without asking people like us at a convention is long gone. We, people on the ground, want a convention where we will elect a torchbearer of our choice,” he said.

Matemba alleged that some top officials in the party have started hiring people to deal with anyone who is pro-Chilima within DPP.

“We know that, after expressing these views, we will be tortured and harassed by those who are pro-Mutharika. We know some people have been given K100,000s for this task. But we are not afraid until the party retains its democratic virtues,” Matemba said.

Blantyre Kabula Constituency secretary, Andrew Chipole-Magwayo, said the party has been rocked by divisions due to actions of selfish leaders.

“I am a supporter of the party and not any individual in the party. What we want is free space for all to contest at a convention. We know that Mutharika is now old but if he feels fit, let him be challenged; that is all we want,” Chipole-Magwayo said.

Adding his voice to the calls, DPP Blantyre District Committee member, Catherine Clement, said there is no love in the party.

She said Mutharika is being misled by individuals who have a selfish agenda.

“Why is it that they are afraid of the idea to hold a convention that is all-inclusive? If there is love within the ranks, people like Chilima would have been given a chance to contest,” Clement said.

Others who attended the emergency meeting include DPP Blantyre youth director Lily Mulume, Blantyre Kabula Constituency governor and his deputy, campaign director and several district and constituency committee members.

Regional governor for the South, Charles Mchacha, could not pick our phone calls when we wanted to verify the names and positions of the party officials.

However, the party’s secretary general, Greselder Jeffrey, referred us to DPP spokesperson, Francis Kasaila, who also did not pick our phone calls.

“Thank you very much for the questions but, unfortunately, I will not be able to tackle the questions because we have a spokesperson Mr Kasaila. So, please consider calling him,” Jeffrey said.

Chilima is yet to announce whether he will challenge Mutharika at the party convention.

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