Supporters of the erstwhile governing Democratic Progress Party (DPP) in Rumphi have spoken against their party leader’s intention to represent the party in 2025.
DPP leader Professor Arthur Peter Mutharika (APM) last week announced that he would contest despite pressure mounting on him to retire from active politics.
Already, Mutharika, 83, is facing resistance from his embattled Leader of Opposition in Parliament Kondwani Nankhumwa, who has now declared that he is ready to face former president should he contest at the party’s convention.
Speaking to the Voice of America on Sunday, Mutharika indicated that he has been getting calls to contest for the presidency in elections slated for 2025.
Mutharika’s spokesperson Shadric Namalomba confirmed these sentiments, but was quick to say his boss will have to go through the party’s convention.
“The constitution of DPP has no limits, much as he will have been president of the party for 10 years. Another element is that he did not finish his second term as president of the country, which is why he wants to come back and finish development projects he initiated. He is very popular among party members. You can actually do a survey on Times Radio and you will appreciate how popular he is.
“The issue of age does not arise in this, as both the country’s constitution and the party’s do not say anything about the age. I mean, look at Joe Biden [the United States president]; he is somewhere around 82 [years] but he is the president of the United States. So, age is not something that should stop someone from availing themselves to be a leader,” Namalomba said.
In a random interview, DPP supporters in Rumphi expressed discomfort with Mutharika’s intention to hang on despite growing old.
Charles Kachipewa Nyirenda of Traditional Authority Chikulamayembe said he does not support the intention.
“What will APM do that he feels he failed to do when he was president for six years? APM must retire from active politics and let the young generation steer the party,” said Nyirenda.
Jennifer Banda of Traditional Authority Mwalweni warned that fielding Mutharika will have serious consequences.
“No one trusts APM anymore. He ransacked the economy and he promoted nepotism during his era. And that is what cost him the presidency. So, what else is he going to say that will convince people to vote for him?” she wondered.
Meanwhile, Nankhumwa has declared that he is ready to contest against anyone in the party.
“I have already said I am ready to contest against anyone who wants to contest at the convention. And I must say I will win,” he said.
University of Malawi-based political analyst Mustapha Hussein has told local media that this shows continued rivalry in the party, arguing that a party convention is the right place where a torchbearer can be chosen.
“I find that as a continuation of the rivalry and misunderstanding in the DPP because what is expected is that the convention of the party is the one that has to choose a torchbearer of the party and, now, since APM says he wants to contest and Nankhumwa is ready to challenge him, it just shows the rivalry that is in the party.
“One expects that, as democrats, they have to allow that a convention [be organised] to choose the person who will contest for the party,” Hussein said.
Recently, at a meeting of some of the party’s lawmakers held at Mutharika’s Page House in Mangochi District, participants replaced Nankhumwa with George Chaponda as Leader of the Opposition.
However, Nankhumwa challenged the decision in court.