Divisions have emerged in the ruling Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) regional committee for the north as some members have come out and pledged support for Vice- President Saulos Chilima’s candidature in the 2019 elections.
DPP Northern Region deputy governor, Afiki Mbewe, is the first member to openly support former first lady Callista Mutharika’s declaration that Chilima should be the DPP flag carrier in the elections.
However, DPP regional governor for the North, Kenneth Sanga, on Saturday told DPP supporters at Livingstonia in Rumphi District that those who are speaking against President Peter Mutharika are “mad”.
But speaking in an interview with The Daily Times, Mbewe said DPP regional committee and other members in the region should accept that Mutharika will no longer be a good leader for the country after 2019.
Mbewe said he knows that some district governors in the region are in total support of the former first lady’s decision, only that they cannot come out for fear of expulsion and loss of positions.
“I was consulting people in the region and I have realised that it is true that Chilima should be our flag carrier in the coming elections. Our president is old and it would not be fair to the youth to continue allowing Mutharika to lead us, especially in the forthcoming elections.
“We know that some of the decisions which are being made in the party are not [being made] by the President. For example, the violence that happened at Chikulamayembe’s Gonapamuhanya Cultural Festival, Bolero, was it from our President? It is these people who have surrounded him and they are also in the regions, like here,” Mbewe said.
But speaking when Member of Parliament for Rumphi North, Jappie Mhango, together with DPP secretary general Gresselder Jeffrey, launched a K4.5 million constituency trophy in Rumphi, Sanga said the party cannot only accommodate normal people but also those with questionable mental status who speak against the party’s decisions.
“Madam SG, whether someone likes it or not our presidential candidate is Peter Mutharika. If you can go to Ekwendeni, Khondowe or Rula, you still meet some people who are mad. This means you still hear some people making impractical decisions but, for us, we already agreed that our president will continue till 2024,” Sanga said.
He further said he does not have problems if some people can join the race in the 2024 elections.
Sanga’s sentiments were echoed by Jeffrey.
“Mvula ikamagwa kuchuluka zoliralira ndiye mukamamva m’mawailesi kuti fyofyonyo- fyofyonyo muzingomvera [There is so much talk around this issue. But you know the truth]. Our candidate is President Peter Mutharika,” Jeffrey said.
But Mbewe said the leaders should not block other people from contesting for any position so that the party’s convention should remain relevant.
Last week, DPP national director for youth, Louis Ngalande, also backed Callista’s call and endorsed Chilima’s candidacy.
The endorsements, however, continue to meet resistance from some senior members of the party like vice president responsible for the north, Goodall Gondwe, who said the country is not ready to be led by “babies”.