The governing Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) continues to endure a fatal cold war between President Peter Mutharika and Vice President Saulos Chilima. One of the party members who is for Chilima, youth leader Louis Ngalande, wrote a letter to the President on May 22, 2018. In it is a Ngalande who wishes to see the party uniting and moving forward. But there were other interesting issues raised which can potentially define the final destination of this intraparty wrangle:
First: Ngalande thinks that DPP has lost its status as mighty and a united party. He wrote, in an address to all party members: “You people mentioned are to blame and you must know that all of you collectively are the cause of the problems which have engulfed the once mighty and united DPP.” This spells a tattered image for the party. As the confusion still rocks DPP, it can safely be concluded that the party needs a political miracle to once again achieve the united and mighty status of which Ngalande suggests it has lost.
Second: President Peter Mutharika is failing to tame some personalities in the party. Unlike its rival, the Malawi Congress Party (MCP), DPP is built on a few strong men and that in turn has centralized power and decision making for the party. Ngalande writes: “As a leader, you have failed to manage those people in the party and wasted much time managing few personalities.” There is a mention of George Chaponda and Francis Mphepo as some people the President trusts. But Ngalande thinks that these people are feeding the President with lies, even those against Vice President Chilima. It is therefore safe to conclude that the isolation that Chilima has endured for the past four years was a work of a few party members who have the privilege of being close to the President.
Third: Ngalande describes President Mutharika as a man with a “slow pace in acting” and goes on to give the example of the party not convening for a National Governing Council (NGC) since 2013. The characterization that Ngalande has given the President is familiar. President Mutharika is silent even when issues are going out of hand. But this is at the government level. The letter by Ngalande addressed him as a leader of DPP. In the last few weeks, President Mutharika has made it clear that he will contest for DPP in May 2019. This has been followed with a series of staged endorsements from different party levels. The way Malawi has known President Mutharika, he is a man who takes time before a firm stand on pertinent issues. That the President has swiftly spoken on his candidature for DPP in 2019 in a record time is a sign that he was fed from the inside that he takes a quick stand in order to secure his position from his unpredictable deputy.
Fourth: DPP Members of Parliament (MPs) lied that they have endorsed President Mutharika for May 2019. During a press conference held by the party’s backbenchers a week ago in Lilongwe, it was mentioned that almost all MPs for the party were for the Mutharika’s 2019 candidacy. But it was all false. “While 50 percent of your MPs endorsed your presidency in public, 75 percent sneaked to your Vice President at night and promised their allegiance there,” writea Ngalande. There is a mention of MPs like Francis Kasaila, who is DPPs Publicity Secretary, Peter Kumpalume, Aaron Sangala and Marison Ndau. The latter has come out in public that he is for Chilima. If this is anything to go by, more MPs will be coming out further isolating President Mutharika who is finding confidence in cosmetic endorsements.
Fifth: The party is facing terrible and strong winds not just at the top leadership, but the grassroots as well. Ngalande mentions prominent party members like Charles Mchacha, the Governor for the Southern Region. The embattled youth leader advances that the grassroots are not happy with how people like Mchacha are running the party. “Another problem DPP has are people like Charles Mchacha, the regional Governor for the south. The grassroots are bitter with how such people are running party affairs,” writes Ngalande. He continues: “The best yet to be done Mr. President was to meet the area and district committees who are in touch with the real voters. Empower them and send them to work.” The party seems to be crumbling from where it ought to be strong; the grassroots.
There is no official response from the party regarding this letter. Looking at the past trend ever since the Mutharika – Chilima debate ensued, DPP is in no mood for any anti-Mutharika sentiments. Making a safe conclusion from what Ngalande has written to the President and the character shown by the party, the correspondence was for President Mutharika but the determination of its contents will be done by those around the President, the same people Ngalande is accusing of misleading the President. And that is where the greatest danger for DPP lies.