People’s Party (PP) executive is said to have been split into two camps, with one preferring to work with the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) while the other wants to be working with the Malawi Congress Party (MCP).
Ralph Jooma, who resigned as PP’s Chief Whip in Parliament amid rumours that he intends to join the DPP, said in an interview that the party is divided.
“If you feel like you can no longer unify your members where the members have been advised between two preferences in terms of alliances, what do you do? PP MPs are divided.
“There is a crop that
prefers to work with DPP and another that prefers to work with MCP. My job became more difficult. I failed to unify them [PP Members of Parliament],” Jooma said when asked why he resigned.
He expressed disappointment over the lack of unity by MPs during the voting on Electoral Reforms Bills last week.
DPP used its numerical advantage and rallied support from the opposition to reject the Presidential, Parliamentary and Local Government Bill, and the Constitutional Amendment Bill—the two bills seeking to replace the system of electing a president from the current first-past-the-post system to 50 percent+1 system.
The MPs also rejected the Assumption of Office of President (Transitional Arrangements) Bill and the Electoral Commission (Amendment) Bill.
The voting pattern by PP lawmakers on the Electoral Reforms [Amendment] Bills exposed disunity in the party as some MPs voted for while others voted against the bills.
Jooma resigned on Friday immediately after a heated party caucus chaired by PP leader in Parliament Raphael Mhone
PP spokesperson, Noah Chimpeni, said the party’s MPs could not agree on how they would vote despite earlier deciding to make a uniform vote.
“The party had a stand and the stand of a party is taken from the leader of PP in the house. It is regrettable that the members could not be on one side,” Chimpeni said.
There had been rumours that DPP paid off some MPs in PP to shoot down the reforms bills. The speculations got credence when some PP MPs conceded that they had a meeting with President Peter Mutharika.
Commenting on accusations that PP lawmakers were bought by DPP, Mhone said PP MPs cannot be bought and that they voted out of their own conscience.
“But that does not represent the position of the party. The position we took [as People’s Party] is [that] we are in support of all Electoral Reforms [Amendment] Bills and that is why today, if you recall, in the first Constitutional Amendment Bill, we said we supported everything.
“Even those things which the Cabinet has done contrary to what the law commissioners recommended— that is, having 50 percent+1 for councillor, MP and the president. Even the recall provisions; let’s have them but you saw what happened. The government side shot them down,” Mhone said.
He also said the party had a caucus and the caucus came up with a clear position that the PP would support the bills as proposed by the Special Law Commission.
“That is why I am saying that what those other MPs have done is not the party’s position because it has not come out of what the caucus agreed,” he said.
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