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PLOT TO DETHRONE NANKHUMWA RESURFACES

By Our Reporter

Troubles and cracks in the embattled opposition Democratic Progressive Party-DPP are getting deeper and worse than the eye meets as emerging revelations show the planned Wednesday meeting of some lawmakers pushing for the party president, Peter Mutharika’s comeback plan to resurrect deliberations to dethrone DPP Vice President for the South, Kondwani Nankhumwa as Leader of Opposition in Parliament-LoP.

This comes a week after the party’s National Governing Council-NGC meeting at Nkopola Lodge in Mangochi which has ironically bred more frustrations than the desired unity ahead of the DPP’s desperate bid to reclaim power in the 2025 general elections.

The Radar has established that besides planning to physically pledge their support towards Mutharika and endorsing him as the party’s torchbearer in the elections, there are discussions to get rid of Nankhumwa as LoP.

DPP Blantyre City Centre lawmaker, Chipiliro Mpinganjira told Times Hot Current Programme on Sunday that they have created a Whatsapp group of certain Members of Parliament-MPs to push for Mutharika’s comeback on ballot.

But he denied plotting to remove Nankhumwa as LoP.

“That is not part of the agenda. I have no problem with Honourable Nankhumwa proceeding as Leader of Opposition in Parliament,” said Mpinganjira after the party’s National Director of Research, Mark Botoman claimed in the same program that Nankhumwa’s removal was part of the agenda.

Nonetheless, other sources within the party have confided in The Radar that indeed Nankhumwa’s ousting forms part of the Wednesday meeting. But they both fell short of explaining reasons behind the move.

“I know the meeting also seeks to discuss Nankhumwa’s leadership in parliament with a possibility of replacing him,” said one MP.

The alleged plot to remove Nankhumwa comes as the 2nd Meeting of the National Assembly in the 50th Session of Parliament is expected to run from July 24 to August 18 2023.

DPP and Mutharika’s spokesperson, Shadric Namalomba was not available to confirm if he was aware of the Wednesday meeting and the agenda. This is not the first time the party has moved in attempting to remove Nankhumwa.

In June 2022, DPP replaced Nankhumwa with Mulanje South West MP, George Chaponda, who was recently appointed as chairperson for the party’s Disciplinary Hearing Committee.

Then, Namalomba had argued that a ‘majority’ of MPs met Mutharika at Page House and made the resolution to remove Nankhumwa as LoP.

Said Namalomba: “The public has always been complaining that we have a weaker opposition in Parliament and because of that, the members, and the whole party, proposed that we must change the Leader of Opposition and as I speak, we have a new leader in the name of Dr George Chaponda.”

This however did not succeed as some MPs argued they were not invited to the meeting. Political scientist, Joseph Chunga observed this was a continuation of the fight in the party bordering on succession plan.

In October 2020, there was a similar attempt to remove Nankhumwa when Mutharika appointed former Nsanje Central legislator Francis Kasaila on the position. However, his nomination was rejected by the party’s MPs.

Political experts have since sounded a serious warning that developments in the beleaguered DPP will simply worsen the prevailing divisions and shatter the party’s dream of returning into government in 2025.

For instance, social and political analyst, Wonderful Mkutche thinks the existing divisions in the party are due to Mutharika’s prolonged silence on whether he will contest at the party’s elective convention in July 2024 or not.

He further argues the party must follow democratic processes and level the playground for all the presidential aspirants ahead of the convention.

At the recent NGC meeting, Mutharika maintained he was still consulting on the matter. But some suggest other party members might be forcing Mutharika, 82, to stand again for their own benefit.

A few days ago, Mutharika told Times Group’s Brian Banda that the question about his age is repetitive, unnecessary and that it should probably be dropped altogether.

“Nobody knows how you are going to be tomorrow, you could drop dead tomorrow, you could get sick tomorrow, nobody knows. We are all human beings, so I don’t know how I am going to be in two years. It is for God to know, not me,” said Mutharika who turns 85 in 2025.

Besides Nankhumwa, Dalitso Kabambe, Joseph Mwanamveka, Paul Gadama and Bright Msaka are some of the DPP presidential aspirants that Mutharika met at his Nyambadwe Residence in Blantyre in November 2021.

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