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Kondwani Nankhumwa retained as Leader of Opposition

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Drama continues to unfold in opposition Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) with the party’s lawmakers yesterday electing Kondwani Nankhumwa as Leader of Opposition a day after they had shot down the appointment of Francis Kasaila to the position.

Nankhumwa, who has been holding the position since Parliament started meeting after the June 23 fresh presidential election, was replaced with Kasaila by DPP leader Peter Mutharika before the arrangement was resisted by some of the party’s Members of Parliament (MPs.

Yesterday, the position was put to a vote—as required by parliamentary Standing Orders— and the Mulanje Central MP shrugged off a challenge from Kasaila and DPP Eastern Region vice-president Bright Msaka who got four votes and one vote, respectively.

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Nankhumwa got 38 votes while four were declared null and void.

DPP Secretary-General Grezelder Jeffrey, who presided over the election at Parliament building in Lilongwe, announced after the poll that Nankhumwa was Parliament’s Leader of Opposition after emerging victorious.

Soon after Jeffrey had announced the results, the MPs danced in an apparent show of joy celebrating Nankhumwa’s victory.

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“Nkhani yatha! Nkhani yamara! Nkhani yamara iyi [the issue is solved],” some MPs were overheard shouting.

Speaking afterwards, Nankhumwa said he was happy with the confidence that the legislators had shown in him.

He said he would make sure that he pays back the confidence from the lawmakers by providing able leadership on the opposition benches.

Asked on whether Mutharika’s decision to remove him from the position and replace him with Kasaila was a vote of no confidence in him, Nankhumwa said the process was improper as it did not follow the processes as stipulated by Parliament.

“Let’s not go that side. We are talking of Parliament Standing Orders and what they say about the election of Leader of Opposition. We are happy that today, the DPP has done what the Speaker asked it to do,” Nankhumwa said.

Meanwhile, University of Livingstonia political scientist, George Phiri, has said what is happening in DPP just vindicates the concerns that some Malawians have had over the past years regarding Mutharika’s quality of leadership.

He said it is surprising to note that Mutharika, being a lawyer, is failing to appreciate the process by which a Leader of Opposition is elected.

“So if he is failing to manage his own party which is a small entity, what about a whole country like Malawi? What the MPs in DPP want to show him is that he can no longer impose leaders on them and that they have the power to elect their own leaders,” Phiri said.

On Wednesday, First Deputy Speaker of Parliament, Madalitso Kazombo, had pushed back the issue of Leader of Opposition to DPP after it had emerged that some MPs in the party present in the chamber had not accepted the appointment of Kasaila.

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