Political and social issues commentator, Joshua Chisa Mbele has described the in-house leadership conflict in the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) as political implosion.
This follows the transfer of the Party’s secretary general, Grezelder Jeffrey from her post to that of vice-president for the Central Region as well as asking her to declare the source of the funding and cash donations she announced that she received from various individuals and organization for the Party to hold its national governing council (NGC) meeting and its national political conference.
When Jeffrey announced that the Party would hold its NGC meeting on Wednesday, December 6, DPP’s spokesperson, Shadric Namalomba issued a statement saying the said caucus was not sanctioned by the central executive committee.
In addition, Namalomba said Jeffrey did not consult Party president, Peter Mutharika ”as required of her by the DPP constitution” — adding that the court ordered that all matters to do with the convention have been adjourned to January 12, 2024.
”Thus not withstanding, the NGC meeting of 6th December is unprocedural and illegal,” Namalomba said, while declaring that Mutharika would in due course call for a the central executive committee meeting to discuss and map the way forward.
But Jeffrey, including DPP vice-president for the South, Kondwani Nankhumwa, Nicholas Dausi, Ken Msonda, Bright Msaka and other high profile member, went ahead with the NGC meeting on Wednesday.
After the meeting, Namalomba once more issued a statement denouncing it as illegal caucus and that any resolutions made there were invalid.
He also indicated that Mutharika applauded the members of the NGC who did not attend Jeffrey’s meeting and described the secretary general as a ”renegade”.
”The non-attendance of the meeting strongly manifests their vote of confidence in the rule of law and adherence to the constitution of the Party,” he had said.
The leadership crisis continued on Friday when the Party’s national director of legal affairs, Charles Mhango penned Jeffrey that she had not handed any funds or donations to the treasurer general nor remitting any into the Party’s bank accounts.
Mhango, who copied the letter to the Registrar of Political Parties, quoted Section 27 (2)’, (5) and (6) of the Political Parties Act, 2018, that required to declare to the Registrar of Political Parties, the cash donations made to the Party.
”I, therefore, advise and ask you to promptly hand over the funds and cash donations to the treasurer general or remit the same into the Party bank accounts,” he said. ”I further advise and ask you to declare all the cash donations which you have so far received on behalf of the Party, by declaring the names of individuals and organizations from whom you have received the donations and the respective amounts.
”I further advise you that if you fail to hand over the funds and cash donations to the treasurer general or to remit the funds and cash donations into the Party bank accounts and to declare the cash donations or if you give false information about the donations, you will personally be held liable to a fine of the arnollnt equal to the funds and cash donations which you received; and to imprisonment for two (2) years under Section 27 (6) (a) and (b) of the said Act.”
Thus Chisa Mbele was prompted to comment on Facebook to describe this impasse in the DPP as political implosion, saying what is happening ”is nothing but intimidation, harassment and abuse of authority within party structures”.
On the declaration of the funds, Chisa Mbele said: ”Unfortunately, the DPP faction that is threatening [Jeffrey] cannot do anything as implied herein. Can the other faction declare sources of their funding. For the sake of transparency, show us your bank balance. Tidziwe nawo.”
Thus he maintained that the DPP needs to foster unity within themselves as the governance structures of this country ”need a strong and robust opposition in a democracy. If you ask me, Grelzeder Jeffrey will earn people’s sympathy.”
On transferring Jeffrey to vice-president (Centre), another political commentator, who trends as Lord Denning on Facebook, described Mutharika’s action as empty.
He said: ”It is evident that the notorious NGC meeting [called by Jeffrey] in Lilongwe sent sleepless nights and restless days [to Mutharika] in Mangochi [where] meetings upon meetings were held, all to devise means of diffusing the pressure”.
He quoted Article 10(8) of the DPP constitution which Mutharika based his decision on — that says: ”The President shall have power to assign a member of the National Governing Council to any public or political office. Unless otherwise directed by the President, a member so assigned or so appointed, shall cease to hold his original office or to exercise or to perform the functions of that original office in the National Governing Council”.
Lord Denning then observes that in exercise of such power, Mutharika then replaced Jeffrey by assigning Dr. Clement Mwale, who is ”a non-NGC member. In other words, the DPP President has unilaterally appointed a person to become the SG for the party, an authority that the constitution does not give (and this will beg a full article).
”Meanwhile, the focus of this post is to examine what remedy remains available to the purportedly ousted SG in the circumstances. In the main, one can accept or reject an assignment.
”Does rejecting an assignment gives the party President the power to dismiss or fire the person? Absolutely no. At most, the rejection of the President’s assignment may simply be an issue amenable to discipline — but that will still mean she continues being the SG of the party.
”Talking of discipline, it has to be conducted by a properly-constituted disciplinary committee and the NGC is responsible for appointing the disciplinary committee members.
”Talking of the NGC, the membership is inclusive of the SG and her allies and the discipline requires observance of rules of natural justice (which include, but not limited to, notifying the individual and giving sufficient time for preparation of the same — the minimum in most cases is 7 days.
”Today is 8th December. Tomorrow 9th December. Convention, according to NGC meeting is scheduled for 16th December. About 7 days remaining — no time for NGC to meet and appoint a proper disciplinary committee (because the DPP does not have one now) — and satisfy the rule of natural justice in the intended disciplinary hearing.
”As you can see, Mutharika remains defeated in the circumstances.”