Until just a few weeks ago, it was a foregone conclusion that former President of the Republic and President of the opposition Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) Professor Arthur Peter Mutharika had fallen for Dr. Dalitso Kabambe as his heir apparent and, therefore, the party’s presidential candidate in 2025.
But as they say, anything is possible in politics. According to sources very close to APM, as Mutharika is fondly referred to by his admirers, the DPP leader has recently been informing his closest allies about his decision to ‘endorse’ DPP Vice President for the Eastern Region and Member of Parliament (MP) for Machinga Likwenu, Bright Msaka, as his now preferred successor.
Of course such an endorsement is not final. There are no tricks or shortcuts in becoming the DPP President; one has to go through a selection process at the national convention, in competition with other presidential aspirants.
But one of Mutharika’s closest political allies and old time friend, Dr. George Chaponda, could not have any of Mutharika’s proclamation when he was invited at the PAGE House in Mangochi for the news recently.
According to the said sources, Dr. Chaponda is alleged to have openly disagreed with APM’s new choice of a successor, arguing Bright Msaka lacks the necessary political acumen to lead the DPP into government in 2025. After all, Msaka comes from the Eastern Region when the party’s stronghold is the Southern Region, Dr. Chaponda argued.
RESEARCH INFORMS APM
However, APM is said to have informed Dr. Chaponda that he had conducted research, which indicated that Malawians no longer trust Lhomwes and that advancing Dalitso Kabambe, a Lhomwe from Thyolo, as the next leader of the DPP, would be condemning the party to the political dustbin.
APM also argued that politically, the sailing for Kabambe would not be smooth because of the criminal charges that he is currently answering based on his alleged misconduct while he was the Reserve Bank of Malawi Governor until 2020.
MSAKA THE CHOSEN ONE
Recently, Bright Msaka publicly declared his intention to run for the DPP presidency at the party’s national convention next year, 2023. During a press conference at which he announced his leadership aspirations, Bright Msaka also highlighted the reasons why he could be the suitable person to lead the country as President.
When APM held a press conference at his PAGE House recently to discuss the prevailing social and economic challeges facing the country, Bright Msaka was one of the few invited guests while Kabambe, the once-upon-a-time blue-eyed boy, was conspicuously absent. Bright Msaka was, however, not given an opportunity to speak at that press conference when the other guests did. But still, his mere presence was confirmation enough that APM wants him to take over the mantle of leadership at the expense of Kabambe.
DPP FOR LHOMWES
Now, Dr. Chaponda confided in one of the senior DPP leaders that he will strongly resist any attempts by APM or his agents to make an ‘outsider’ the party’s President. He argues that the founding father of the party, late Professor Bingu wa Mutharika’s desire was to preserve the DPP as a political party for the Lhomwe people and anything to the contrary would not please Bingu in his grave.
“I respect Bingu and I won’t accept that the party’s top leadership should go to the Eastern Region,” he is quoted to have said.
Dr. Chaponda also harbours presidential ambitions but it is not clear whether or not he would proceed to contest at the DPP national convention considering his old age. He is over 80 years old.
DK INTENSIFIES CAMPAIGN
Meanwhile, Dr. Kabambe doesn’t seem to be dampened by APM’s change of heart. The former RBM Governor has upped his political game, increasing his presence on the social media, as he promotes himself as the best thing that might ever happen to the DPP and Malawi if he becomes President.
Widely regarded as a political novice, Dr. Kabambe claims he is an economist with the right qualifications and experience to bring about a quick turnaround of the country’s economic fortunes.
Other DPP presidential aspirants include Joseph Mwanamvekha, Dr. Kondwani Nankhumwa, and Paul Gadama, among others.