Leader of Opposition in Parliament, Kondwani Nankhumwa, who is also Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) vice-president for the Southern Region, Friday told Malawi News that he is not intimidated with the move by former Reserve Bank of Malawi governor, Dalitso Kabambe, to join DPP in anticipation to contest for the party’s presidency during its next convention and possibly for the presidential ticket in 2025.
On Thursday, Kabambe officially joined opposition DPP and was welcomed at the party’s Southern Region offices in Blantyre’s Sunnyside suburb.
Nankhumwa, who was not at the function, said he was not invited to the event but said it is Kabambe’s democratic right to join the party and, if he wishes, to contest on any position.
“I was not invited but the night before Thursday I got a call from the regional governor, saying Dalitso Kabambe went to him to tell him that he [kabambe] has made arrangements with the national organising secretary that he should be formally welcomed in the party and that everything was already arranged. That is how I go the news.”
He added: “It is his democratic right to contest on any position he wishes and I believe that as time passes by, a lot of people will join the race. I have read reports especially on social media that he is our party leader’s [Peter Mutharika] choice, but I choose not to believe them because delegates at the convention are the ones to choose.
“All I know is people will have their democratic right to choose. The reports that someone has been anointed or not, that does not hold water at all because delegates at the convention will decide not an individual,” he said.
However, efforts to speak to DPP’s national organising secretary proved futile as he cut our calls without calling back even after sometime.
Commenting on Nakhumwa’s relationship with Mutharika, he [Nankhumwa] said their relationship is cordial as it has always been.
“Our relationship has been cordial…we talk from time to time. As for the camps that were supposedly in the party and the infighting, remember that issue is in court so I cannot comment much on it,” he said.
Chancellor College political analyst Mustapha Husein expressed hope that Kabambe would try and unify all factions within the party.
“One would expect that he is joining DPP as a party and not a faction. He can lead the party in the post-Mutharika era just like many other members who were already in the party. In the end, who leads them depends on the choice of the members,” he said.
The DPP has been sailing in troubled waters since the party lost the June 23 fresh presidential election.
And an all-out war on who succeeds Mutharika later broke out in the party, with Nankhumwa at the centre of controversy.
Some sections within the party have since been calling for an early convention to settle the leadership questions within the party.
Sometime last year after DPP’s loss, the calls for early convention grew louder, which saw Mutharika attempting to fire Gresselder Jeffrey as secretary-general after she publicly declared that the former head of state had done his part and that the party had to identify a leader to take it to 2025.
DPP had been in power from February 2005 when former President late Bingu wa Mutharika resigned from the United Democratic Front to form the party, until to 2012 after the then embattled vice president Joyce Banda ascended to presidency following demise of Bingu.
The party bounced back to power in 2014 when late Bingu’s younger brother, Peter Mutharika, trounced Banda at the ballot in 2014