Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) leader Peter Mutharika over the weekend engaged people that are aspiring for the party’s top position, a development DPP spokesperson Shadric Namalomba has described as a move aimed at strengthening the party.
Political analyst Mustafa Hussein has since commended Mutharika for initiating reconciliation.
The development comes after, at this year’s Mulhakho wa Alhomwe cultural event in Mulanje District, former president Bakili Muluzi urged Mutharika to unite warring factions in the party.
Namalomba said six presidential aspirants met with the party’s leader in Blantyre on Saturday, when he urged them to stop campaigning and concentrate on party-building efforts.
The aspirants are Leader of the Opposition in Parliament Kondwani Nankhumwa, former Reserve Bank of Malawi governor Dalitso Kabambe, Machinga Likwenu legislator Bright Msaka, Chiradzulu South Member of Parliament Joseph Mwanamvekha, Prophet David Mbewe and Paul Gadama.
He said aspirants pledged to shelve their presidential ambitions and stop campaigning until the DPP convention dates are announced.
“The aspirants have further agreed to end all camps in the party and that all their media teams will be merged into one media team for the party and to be led by the party’s spokesperson,” Namalomba indicates in a statement.
A year ago, DPP’s central committee expelled Nankhumwa, who is the party’s Southern Region vice-president, secretary general Grezelder Jeffrey and others for what the committee described as “gross misconduct”.
The committee accused Nankhumwa of imposing himself as Leader of the Opposition in Parliament while the others were accused of taking part in the scheme.
Nankhumwa went to court over the issue but, in a statement released by Namalomba, the party claims that Nankhumwa has agreed to withdraw the court case.
The statement further indicates that Nankhumwa remains the Leader of the Opposition in Parliament.
Meanwhile, Hussein has said Mutharika’s gesture could be aimed at bringing peace and sanity to the party, which had been characterised by conflicts.
“It is a commendable step, one that can raise some hope that, probably, the party will now start rebuilding,” he said.
Mathews Kasanda is a journalist who holds a Bachelor of Arts in Journalism from University of Malawi (The Polytechnic).
In 2015, Media Institute of Southern Africa awarded him the Best Print Media Education Journalist of the Year accolade.
He joined Times Group Newsroom in September 2019.