Malawians should expect a weaker opposition in parliament as the country’s main opposition party, Democratic Progressive Party (DPP), has its internal fight to another level.
Following the election of the new Leader of Opposition George Chaponda at Page House on Sunday, battle lines have been drawn between members of Parliament (MPs) supporting DPP leader, Professor Arthur Peter Mutharika, and those behind deposed Leader of Opposition Kondwani Nankhumwa as both sides have vowed to do business their own way.
They have both vowed not respect each other when parliament meets this July.
Lawmakers supporting Nankhumwa accuse Mutharika of violating the law and acting in contempt of court, which stopped the part from interfering with Parliamentary Procedures and Processes, including election and appointment of MPs to various positions in the august House.
Despite the court ruling in favour of the Nankhumwa faction, the APM camp on Sunday went ahead to elect a new Leader of Opposition, George Chaponda, thereby interfering with the laid down Parliamentary Procedures and Processes.
This has prompted the pro-Nankhumwa legislators to threaten that they will not respect the leadership of Chaponda when they return to parliament in July 2022.
Zomba Chisi lawmaker Mark Botomani and Mulanje South MP, Yusuf Nthenda, argued that Mutharika has no powers to dictate the business in parliament.
But Chaponda has fought back, daring dared MPs who are against his election to “leave the party.” He has vowed that he will do everything in parliament to ensure that “no one seems to be bigger than his sponsoring party.”
“If they are not ready to respect the decisions of the party, they are free to leave. No one is bigger than the party. It also happened in 2012 when our former leader, Professor Bingu wa Mutharika died. Some went to Peoples Party and regrettably, majority of them did not retain their seats in 2014,” he challenged.
Meanwhile, a senior DPP National Governing Council (NGC) member, Ken Msonda, has described the steps APM is taking as “shameful and childish.”
“The major problem in ALL political parties in Malawi, especially my party the DPP is the childish and silly thought that a political party belongs to a party president! In the first place, why hold a political party indaba at someone’s personal PRIVATE residence?” he asked.
He added, “All political party meetings in MALAWI held at someone’s personal PRIVATE residence are not a political party meeting but a get together of closest politicians; friends and colleagues over a cup of coffee.”
Msonda warned that MPs who attended the Page House meeting risk arrest for defying a court order stopping the party leadership from interfering with Parliamentary Procedure and Processes.
He argued that since the court ordered that Nankhumwa was elected by opposition parliamentarians, they are the only ones who can remove him not the party.
“Surely, Counsel Charles Mhango, as DPP Director of Legal Affairs, has misled his colleagues. He, too, shall be arrested. APM as a legal scholar must have known that, but as Hon. Ken Msonda has time and again claimed, mdalayudi zedidi anamuika mu botolo, saganidza pa yekha wangokhala ngati chidangwaredza, chikwangwani kapenachi bilibodi,” he said.