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DPP Troubles: Nankhumwa Declares Presidential Candidacy

Nankhumwa Nankhumwa - pic by Alex Banda

Kondwani Nankhumwa, who insists he remains the vice president of the opposition Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) in the South, has declared his interest to contest for the presidency of the party.

Nankhumwa, speaking at a press briefing in Blantyre today, said his aim is to restore the glory of the DPP.

He made reference to contest for the position at a convention proposed by his faction of the party to be held on 15 and 16 December in Lilongwe, despite the camp of party president Peter Mutharika dismissing the convention as un-procedural.

He called on all party members willing to contest for positions at the convention, including Mutharika, to come in the open.

“The party has been declining in strength since the death of our founding leader, Professor Bingu wa Mutharika. This is not the kind of party he wanted,” Nankhumwa told the press,” If Mutharika [Peter] is willing to contest, let him do, but as any other candidate. And I’ll be willing to face him. If he wins, I’ll support him.

Nankhumwa, who is leader of opposition in parliament, was franked by several members of his camp and claimed to have been asked by supporters of the party to stand for the presidency and ultimately contest as its torch bearer in the 2025 General Elections.

Reacting to the announcement by Nankhumwa, political scientist Enerst Thindwa said the challenge that Nankhumwa will face is an unfriendly environment in the DPP.

He said given the controversy and the uncertainty over the party’s convention, the declaration by Nankhumwa is likely to further widen factionalism in the party.

“Taking these matters to court will not even help. The DPP leaders must simply come to a roundtable to discuss their differences and agree on how to forge ahead,” he added.

According to Thindwa, the factionalism in the DPP has the potential to split the party into two as each camp is suspicious of the other.

The confusion in the party has widened after the camp led by Nankhumwa, backed by estranged secretary general Grezelder Jeffrey, held a national governing council (NGC) meeting on December 6 and announced dates for a convention to be held in Lilongwe.

The camp led by Mutharika dismissed the resolutions of the NGC meeting, and reacted by holding a parallel one in Mangochi and announcing changes in the rank and file. 

Among other changes, Mutharika said Jeffrey had been reassigned as vice president for the centre.

In the latest twist, on Sunday, Mutharika wrote in a statement that Nankhumwa had been removed from his position as Vice President for the Southern Region and that he had been replaced by George Chaponda.

According to the statement, Nankhumwa has been appointed as Presidential Advisor alongside Paul Gadama and Cecilia Chazama. Chazama chaired the disputed Lilongwe NGC meeting. 

While Jeffrey is challenging her removal from the position of secretary general in the courts, Nankhumwa indicated at the Blantyre press conference that he had no interest to take that route, saying he was duly elected at a national convention.

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