Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) Secretary General, Greselder Jeffrey, is a very brunt politician. She speaks from deep down her heart. Even in a salvo of bullets fired from her detractors, Jeffrey never regrets or tries to explain her words.
She is the only person, in the ruling party’s politburo, who publicly hints that President Peter Mutharika’s appointments do not make sense.
Look, Jeff wa Jeff,as she is known in other circles, said it clearly that, according to her own analysis, the Northern Regional would never produce a president until heavens come. She argued that the region blew up its chances when the country’s multiparty icon, the late Chakufwa Thom Chihana, failed to make it to the State House in the 1994 general elections.
Jeffrey faced a barrage of criticism from interested parties but she never showed any remorse. She said the media quoted her out of context, which meant she knew exactly what she was talking about.
True to her words, wa Jeff was at it again challenging her critics to prove her wrong by producing a presidential candidate for the DPP in the 2019 elections.
Seeing that her critics were still missing her message after several explanations, she came out even clearer that her anger was with the performance of people Mutharika hired as Cabinet ministers from the Northern Region.
Jeffrey told a rally at Katoto Ground that, of all ministers in the North, only Transport Minister, Jappie Mhango, was a performer. She said Mhango is the only hardworking and loyal minister in the region. Perhaps a little reminder would help that the region had Finance Minister, Goodall Gondwe, who is also DPP vice president, Home Affairs Minister, Grace Chiumia and Vincent Ghambi who has since been fired.
Probably based on the fact that the party leaders were non-performers, Jeffrey told a rally in Chitipa that she has been to the region on a record seven times just to make sure that all was set for the arrival of the President.
Jeffrey is the chief executive officer of the governing party. She heads its secretariat. She is the one who implements strategic and policy decisions that the DPP politburo sets. She sits in the restricted inner circle. Because of her vantage position, Jeffrey is privy to some classified information that the party might not even release to its other members. Is she speaking for herself or she has been sent to test the waters?
Mutharika is the appointing authority. Presumably, he consults his trusted lieutenants before making appointments: is Jeffrey telling the world that her boss made some useless appointments? Has her advice been ignored, forcing her to go public?
This is not an isolated case in the political history of the country. When the United Democratic Front (UDF) was at a leadership crossroads, its regional governor, the late Davis Kapito, was unleashed to declare that all senior party members and Cabinet ministers were madeya (chaff) and could not succeed the then State President Bakili Muluzi. We all criticised Kapito but he never relented. And, as truth had it, Muluzi handpicked an apparent rank outsider, Bingu wa Mutharika, as his successor. And, as they say, the rest is history.
Towards the end of the single-party era, Blantyre District party chairman, the late Charles Kamphulusa, told Dr Kamuzu Banda at a rally that the then Justice minister, Friday Makuta SC (now deceased), was just sitting phwii (idle) instead of bending the laws to deal with democracy advocates.
But Makuta was a decent person not cut-out for Malawi’s politics. He could not stomach such nonsense and he resigned from the Cabinet.
It would, therefore, be unfair for Jeffrey to compare Mhango to the other ministers. Jappie is a man about town. This is the guy who has been operating in Lilongwe’s Area 4 and Nchesi Area before joining politics. His peers include former deputy speaker, Jones Chingola, and Presidential Adviser, Vuwa Kaunda. In the North, he can be ranked alongside Karonga Central MP, Frank Tumpale Mwenifumbo, Rumphi Central legislator, Enoch Chihana, and Rumphi East lawmaker, Kamlepo Kalua.
Jappie is the kind of person who checks the depth of a river with both feet. He cares less about risks as long as he achieves his goals. He is one person one would meet in the other world of Malangalanga commonly called ku magalaja. He is simply a gambler.
On the other hand, Goodall has a reputation to protect. He is a technocrat and therefore, takes calculated steps. He would not be able to organise boys to protect his turf. He is the type that calls for contact and dialogue to find solutions. They are two different people.
It is, therefore, day-dreaming for Jeffrey to expect Goodall to soil his hard-earned reputation just to be counted in the party.
I know, Jeffrey does not care about public perception. She actually said whether other ministers would be angry or not, she did not mind but she felt passionately to tell them off.
So, there you are, the DPP Secretary General is frustrated that her ministers are just sitting phwii in the region. Only time will tell.
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