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More calls for DPP convention

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Calls for the ruling Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) to hold a convention sooner rather than later are growing in the Southern Region, as grass-roots leaders mobilise themselves in an effort to influence the party’s power brokers.

The campaign for the convention started in Blantyre on Monday when members of the district committee called on local leaders to start pushing for convention dates.

The grass-roots supporters say a convention is the only way to resolve the leadership crisis that threatens the ruling party’s chances of winning next year’s presidential election.

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Tuesday, DPP members from Mulanje District, which is regarded as DPP’s heartland, convened separate meetings at which they voiced their anger against the tendency of imposing leaders on them.

DPP grass-roots’ structures in three constituencies of Mulanje District— namely Mulanje South, Mulanje Limbuli and Mulanje South East — convened the meetings.

In Mulanje South Constituency, where hundreds attended the meeting, constituency governess Odetta Jamali asked Mutharika to pave the way for Vice-President Saulos Chilima if the party is to cement its chances of sustaining its rule.

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“We are all DPP; all members who are here are DPP. But what we want is that Mutharika should pave the way for Chilima. If that is not ideal for him, let there be a convention that is inclusive. Chilima and everybody else who want to contest for the presidency should not be blocked,” she said.

Lawmaker for the constituency, Bon Kalindo, said the meeting was called by the constituency executive committee which, he claimed, is tired of the infighting, intolerance and failure of intra-party democracy in the party.

“All we are saying is that he is old and he should give way to his vice, Chilima. When you see an old man carrying a heavy load, rush and help out. Mutharika is carrying a heavy load on his head; we cannot afford to let him lead Malawians at that age [79 years]. Let the youthful help him carry the load and lead the country,” Kalindo said.

Others who attended the Mulanje South pro- Chilima meeting include deputy governess Gloria Mvula, campaign director Raphael Tambala, youth director Goodson Masanza and ward governor Steward Mankhamba.

Another meeting was held in Mulanje Limbuli Constituency, where 110 members availed themselves.

Chair of the meeting, Henry Matemba— who is also regional organising secretary for the South and a member of the DPP National Governing Council (NGC) — said the meeting was arranged by grass-roots structures in the constituency.

“We came to hear them out and also clarify that we want a convention that is free for all. No candidate should be imposed on us,” he said.

Director of women in Mulanje Limbuli Constituency, Elifa Mthaliwa, warned that, if the calls by the grass-roots members are not taken into consideration, “that will be the end of the party”.

A third meeting, chaired by Ben Chidyaonga, a member of the NGC and former governor for the Southern Region, was held in legislator George Chaponda’s backyard of Mulanje South East Constituency.

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