An all-out war on who succeeds former president Peter Mutharika has broken out in opposition Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) with Vice- President for the South Kondwani Nankhumwa, who is considered a top contender, being called for a disciplinary hearing today for what the party considers breach of discipline.
A letter signed by the disciplinary committee’s secretary Charles Mhango says Nankhumwa undermined the authority of Mutharika contrary to express instruction of the former president on appointment of Leader of Opposition in Parliament.
“Before the president communicated to the Right Honourable Speaker of the National Assembly his choice of Leader of Opposition, you communicated to the Right Honourable Speaker that you had been chosen Leader of Opposition and an announcement was made to this effect.
“When the president told you that he had chosen Dr George Chaponda as Leader of Opposition and you as Chief Whip you refused and sent a ‘Bye’,” reads the letter in part.
The letter also alleges that Nankhumwa and the party’s estranged Secretary-General Grezelder Jeffery conspired to mislead Mutharika that DPP Members of Parliament would revolt if Nankhumwa’s ‘self-imposed’ position of Leader of Opposition was not reversed.
During the hearing, the party also wants to enquire into Nankhumwa’s academic qualifications, saying he has not conclusively responded to public queries into his qualifications.
The meeting, which was scheduled to take place on Wednesday, has been rescheduled to today in Lilongwe.
Ironically Chaponda, who Nankhumwa is being accused of fleecing the position of Leader of Opposition from, is Chairperson of the disciplinary committee.
Chaponda declined to comment on what he expected from the hearing today.
“I have no comment at this stage. Thank you,” he said before cutting the line when contacted yesterday.
But Nankhumwa said the charges are all being fabricated to stop him from contesting for the position of president of the party during the convention.
“There is nothing authentic in the accusations. The issue is that they want to bar me from standing at the convention. Where were they all this time to talk about my qualifications when it is easy to ascertain them with examining bodies,” he said.
Nankhumwa also denied the accusation that he imposed himself as Leader of Opposition, insisting Secretary-General Grezelder Jeffrey wrote the Speaker about it after being directed by Mutharika making him as a choice.
He also wondered how Chaponda can chair the disciplinary hearing in Lilongwe when he is an interested party who wants to contest as president of the party during the convention.
The DPP has been sailing in troubled waters since the party lost the June 23 fresh presidential election.
Some sections within the party have been calling for an early convention to settle leadership questions within the party.
The calls saw Mutharika attempting to fire Jeffrey as Secretary-General after she publicly declared that the former Head of State had done his part and that the party had to identify a leader to take it to 2025.
Chancellor College political expert Mustapha Hussein asked for sincerity during the hearing.
“If Honourable Kondwani Nankhumwa is being called for a disciplinary hearing, then there must be an issue they need to resolve. Nobody is more powerful than the party itself but they must be honest with each other. The issue should be resolved amicably because this is not time for the party to be losing people of Nankhumwa’s influence,” he said.