As the tide against President Peter Mutharika rises within the ruling Democratic Progressive Party (DPP), secretary general Gresselder Jeffrey and party vice president for the South George Chaponda are forcing lawmakers to publicly endorse Mutharika a year before the Tripartite Elections.
The lawmakers are being forced to also discredit Mutharika’s potential successor, Vice-President Saulos Chilima, whose campaign within the party’s rank and file is slowly gaining ground.
Five DPP Members of Parliament (MPs) who spoke to us separately on condition of anonymity for fear of reprisals disclosed that they recently attended a meeting organised by Chaponda and Jeffrey, at which they were asked to endorse Mutharika as 2019 presidential candidate and not Chilima
According to the Parliamentarians, a loyalty meeting took place at the party national headquarters, at the Old Wenela in Lilongwe, on Wednesday last week.
Jeffrey confirmed the meeting took place, saying the MPs are organising themselves in support of Mutharika.
She, however, distanced both herself and Chaponda from reports that they organised the meeting, insisting that the MPs are mobilising themselves under the leadership of Mangochi North Constituency legislator, Benedicto Chambo.
Jeffrey said she attended the Wenela loyalty meeting in her capacity as legislator for Nkhotakota South Constituency and not as DPP secretary general.
“I attended [the meeting] because I was invited…There are other people who have their own groups and they can gather and conduct their meetings [as they wish],” Jeffrey said when asked why she attended the meeting and wheather she was one of the organisers.
The Daily Times has learnt that about 33 DPP MPs attended the meeting
The meeting also discussed propaganda strategies against those supporting Chilima.
“They have also planned to mobilise people to march in all the constituencies belonging to MPs that pledged their support to Right Honourable Chilima as they did in Honourable Bon Kalindo’s constituency a week ago,” another MP said. Both Chambo and Chaponda could not pick up our calls when we tried to reach them for comment.
Since former first lady Callista Mutharika came out of silence and endorsed Chilima for the 2019 elections, the DPP has lost its momentum and only has a year to regain that. More and more senior members of the party have come out in support of Chilima and not the President in recent months.