Some opposition Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) top officials are convincing party followers to allow former president Peter Mutharika, aged 81, to contest in the 2025 presidential election.
Both DPP regional governor for the South Charles Mchacha and his counterpart in the North Patrick Ackim Mwanza have in separate interviews confirmed that they want Mutharika to stand in the 2025 poll to end squabbles that have rocked the former governing party.
But the party’s secretary-general (SG) Grezelder Jeffrey says Mutharika has not yet informed her about his interest to contest in the election.
Meanwhile, a governance expert has said the country’s Constitution does not bar Mutharika from contesting the 2025 presidential poll.
According to the DPP officials, they want Mutharika to partner with United Democratic Front (UDF) leader Atupele Muluzi again as his running mate.
President Lazarus Chakwera and his running mate Saulos Chilima defeated Mutharika and his running mate Muluzi in the court-sanctioned June 23 2020 Fresh Presidential Election after the Constitutional Court nullified the May 2019 Presidential Election in which Mutharika was declared the winner.
In an interview on Thursday, Mchacha said DPP is currently divided over the leadership issue and fielding Mutharika would end all disagreements.
He said: “We want to face the 2025 Presidential Election as a formidable force to win it. With Mutharika and Atupele as his running mate, we are assured of getting back in power.
“Some people are worried about his age, but that is nothing. Check around the globe, you will find leaders much older than Mutharika.
“Those interested in this position, we urge them to come to the convention to challenge Mutharika. We are not stopping anyone from joining the race because we are a democratic party.”
Mchacha said the DPP constitution does not bar Mutharika from contesting again.
He said if some people doubt Mutharika’s capability to turn the tables in 2025, they should recall that in 2014 he came from the opposition to defeat Joyce Banda.
In an interview on Friday, Mchacha’s counterpart in the Northern Region Mwanza agreed with him, saying they are seriously considering fielding Mutharika.
However, he said it is up to DPP regional committees to discuss this issue and come up with a position.
But DPP SG Jeffrey in an interview yesterday said if Mutharika is indeed interested to stand again, he should find time to inform her as the party’s secretary general.
“As it stands, he has not told me. No any other member has told me, so I cannot competently comment on this issue for now,” she said.
DPP legal affairs director Charles Mhango said the party’s constitution paves way for a president to be in charge for three five-year terms.
He cited article 10 which reads in part: “Unless otherwise disqualified, a member of the National Governing Council shall be eligible for re-election for two more terms.
“Where the president of the party has been elected as president of the Republic of Malawi, that person shall remain, president of the party, until he or she completes his second term of office as the president of the Republic.”
Based on this clause, Mhango said the current DPP president Peter Mutharika, who failed to retain the country’s presidency in 2020, was eligible to contest for the position at the party’s next convention.
Meanwhile, a governance expert Makhumbo Munthali says the country’s Constitution does not bar Mutharika from contesting as a presidential candidate.
He said what would be key is to determine if the DPP constitution also allows him to stand.
Munthali said if the party’s constitution allows Mutharika to stand, they should level the playing field so that other aspirants compete with him without being barred or persecuted.
He said: “But the current attempts where some candidates are not allowed to the campaign are a clear signal that the environment is not conducive.
“If the reason for Mutharika to stand is to achieve peace in DPP, I think that will not be achieved. It may actually create more problems if the DPP is not able to embrace intraparty democracy.”
Munthali said the voice of the DPP followers should be given ultimate priority, warning that if the party leaders attempt to suppress their voices, it would be a recipe for trouble.