By Serah Chilora
Former minister of Justice and Constitutional Affairs Samuel Tembenu, who is also a member of Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) National Governing Council (NGC), has been removed from the party’s NGC WhatsApp group following his rebuking remarks after the party performed badly during October 26 by-elections.
A source privy to the group but opted for anonymity confirmed that the group belongs to DPP NGC.
Tembenu took to the social media his sentiments on the party’s leadership problems as a major reason for the flop.
DPP only retained Chimwalire Ward in Balaka South Constituency but lost Nkhotakota North East Constituency, previously held by its member the late Martha Lunji.
The party also poorly performed in Mzimba East and Dedza Central East constituencies.
Following this, Tembenu openly said the party is in a crisis but it is burying its head in the sand hoping its existing problems will just disappear.
“Confront the problems and resolve them. Name calling and bad-mouthing each other just compounds the problem. The whole idea of participating in bye-elections when we are in such disarray seems laughable at best.
“Inu, mwana wodwala kwashiorkor or marasmus needs to be nourished first before being sent out to school or allowed to play with his or her peers. Otherwise, amabweretsa chitonzo kwa makolo. Stop worrying about the loss. I am not surprised that we have suffered a thumping,” reads part of what he wrote.
But a WhatsApp screenshot making rounds on social media that we have seen shows Chimwemwe Chipungu, the party’s Organising Secretary, removing Tembenu from the NGC WhatsApp group.
“Hon you are removing one of the lawyers in the constitutional case of Section 75, who will feed members with information on the cases’ progress.
“A Tembenu alakwanji? Vuto losafuna kuuzidwa zoona ndilimene latifikitsa pomwe tilipa eish. [What wrong has Tembenu done? The problem of not wanting to be told the truth is what has got us here],” read two reactional messages on the group.
Another WhatsApp conversation we have seen shows Chipungu responding to Mark Botomani with unpalatable words following Botomani’s inquiry on Tembenu’s removal.
DPP spokesperson Shadric Namalomba refused to comment on the matter.
“How about you ask the owners of the matter? I cannot comment on social media things,” he said.
And both Tembenu and Chipungu did not pick our calls when we sought their comments.
University of Livingstonia political analyst George Phiri has since warned of more chaos in the party, arguing the party has lost direction because of lack of leadership.
“My point is that when there is no leadership, everything goes and everyone becomes a leader. The party has no leadership, so everyone can lead it from this way to that way and now we have seen Tembenu being sidelined.
“If you remember at the Mulhako aa Alohmwe when the former president Bakili Muluzi advised the former president Peter Mutharika, saying he has the powers to work out leadership of the party and he also said the party that is divided and fighting from within cannot win an election. Which means that there are real issues in the party and the leader is not leading. Peter Mutharika does not know he is not leading the party. He has forgotten,” he said.
Phiri further said if the party continues with this infighting, it will not have any strong contenders for its 2023 convention.
“The second issue is that the party does not want to be rebuked when it does something wrong. That is why I have said that if the so-called leader of the party maintains his position until 2023, he will conduct the convention by himself because the party will not be there by that time.
“People who can make DPP a real party are the ones who are being blacklisted by the leadership. Those leaving and being mistreated for their advice are the real lovers of the party and not those who are silent,” he said.
Since DPP was ousted in power during June 23, 2020 Presidential Elections, there have been wrangles involving the top brass in the party due to, among others, leadership problems.