Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) leader Peter Mutharika Wednesday censured the party’s secretary general Grezelder Jeffrey and vice president for the Southern Region Kondwani Nankhumwa for holding a rally in Lilongwe without consulting him and the party’s leadership.
However, Jeffrey has maintained that, as DPP chief executive officer, she does not have to report everything she does in her capacity to the party’s president and National Government Council.
“Even when a president appoints Cabinet ministers, do they report everything they do to the president? Why did the party give me the position in the first place?” Jeffrey queried.
In a statement, Mutharika claims that he heard through the media that the party had two rallies at the same venue within a space of two days when he was only aware of one, which he had been informed about.
He has described Jeffrey and Nankhumwa’s actions as indiscipline and disloyalty.
“Honourable Zelia Chakale consulted the party and its leadership and consequently got approval for the DPP Central Region Committee to conduct a public rally on 30th April 2022. On the other hand, Ms Grezelder Jeffrey never consulted the party and its leadership to seek approval for the rally that was conducted on 1st May 2022 presided over by Honourable Kondwani Nankhumwa. Had Ms Grezelder Jeffrey consulted, she would have been directed that this rally be conducted elsewhere and/or at some other time.
“The Democratic Progressive Party is a party of democrats, order and discipline and respect for the constitution. What Ms. Grezelder Jeffrey and Hon Kondwani Nankhumwa did was out of order, an act of indiscipline and disloyalty. The DPP specifically calls upon Ms Grezelder Jeffrey, Honourable Kondwani Nankhumwa and all bonafide members and supporters to respect the party’s leadership and all structures enshrined in the constitution,” the statement reads.
Mutharika warns that any office-bearer or member of the DPP who disrespects the party’s constitution will be dealt with sternly.
Mutharika’s spokesperson Shadric Namalomba authenticated the statement, saying the party ought to be moving in unity if it were to return to power.
Meanwhile, political commentator Victor Chipofya has said the only way to resolve persistent conflicts within the party is for the party to be decisive on the way forward.
“There is a sect in the DPP which is saying that Mutharika is old and cannot stand again as president and needs to give the mantle to somebody. So, there you have an issue of succession plan within the DPP and Mutharika has to decide on what needs to be done.
“Another conflict is that a lot of political parties are family-centred and Mutharika is facing the challenge of who he can give it to, to make sure that the party is in the region it regards as its stronghold,” he said.
Meanwhile, DPP regional governor for the Northern Region Ackim Mwanza has asked Nankhumwa to get clearance from the region’s vice president Goodall Gondwe if they plan to hold a rally in Mzuzu.
Nankhumwa told his followers at a rally he conducted at Mgona in Lilongwe that he would hold similar rallies in Mzuzu next week and, thereafter, in Mangochi District.
But, speaking in an interview, Mwanza said regional leaders had not been told about the development, adding the rally would only happen if Gondwe approves it.
Mwanza said party protocol mandates Nankhumwa and his team to go through the national organising secretary’s office and vice president for the region for a well-planned rally.
“We do not have problems with him holding the rally in my region. However, he will need clearance from our vice president Goodall Gondwe because he is our leader here.
“If he is not getting clearance from him, then there will be no rally because we are the organisers of the rally in the region. We know where our people are and him [Nankhumwa], being one of the senior guys in the party, knows the importance of protocol,” Mwanza said.
But speaking separately, director of operations Joe Thomas Nyirongo said Nankhumwa could, in his capacity as Leader of the Opposition in Parliament, hold rallies in any region.
Nyirongo said the regional committee and Gondwe had no powers to disapprove of the rally.
“Nankhumwa will come and he will hold a rally without any fear. He is Leader of the Opposition in Parliament as, and [political] parties, we are supposed to be proud of his position,” Nyirongo said.