Malawi Opposition Disciplines Dissident Faction
Crackdown on Renegade Malawi Politicians Deepens Ruling Party's Advantage
LILONGWE, Malawi— Malawi's main opposition party, Democratic Progressive Party (DPP), opened disciplinary hearings Thursday against senior officials accused of organizing an "unsanctioned" leadership meeting last month in defiance of the party president, writes Winston Mwale.
Mark Botomani, a DPP lawmaker, was the first to face closed-door disciplinary proceedings Thursday against senior officials accused of organizing an “unsanctioned” leadership meeting last month in defiance of the party president.
Botomani declined to discuss details upon exiting after two hours, saying he was instructed not to disclose interactions with the disciplinary panel.
Botomani, former Vice President Kondwani Nankhumwa, ex-Secretary General Grezelder Jeffrey and former Women’s Director Cecilia Chazama have been summoned over their alleged roles in a Dec. 6 national governing council gathering that President Peter Mutharika did not authorize.
The faction stands accused of antagonizing Mutharika’s authority amid jockeying over the party’s future direction — including its candidate for 2025 presidential polls eight months after the incumbent lost reelection.
Chazama was next to appear Thursday at the Lilongwe hotel venue, followed by Jeffrey and Nankhumwa, officials said.
Heavy security flanked the proceedings.
On Wednesday, the Supreme Court of Appeal dealt the defiant officials a pre-hearing setback — dismissing their application challenging Mutharika’s decision to reassign them to different party positions.
Justice Dorothy Nya Kaunda ruled the petition lacked merit and ordered the officials to bear court costs, underlying the gravity of flouting internal party protocols.
In response, Nankhumwa acknowledged respecting the legal decision despite his disappointment.
He expressed commitment to upholding rule of law and democratic principles.
Nankhumwa also conveyed plans to engage stakeholders and soon outline his strategic political direction, demonstrating dedication to his continued opposition activism.
The standoff threatens to split Malawi’s longtime main opposition party and hands a political opening to the ruling Lazarus Chakwera-led Tonse Alliance coalition.
The DPP governed Malawi between 2014 and 2020 prior to Chakwera's victory — its latest stumble underscoring the challenges of holding together the internal coalitions that tend to propel big-tent political machines in multiparty African democracies.