Malawi’s oldest party Malawi Congress Party (MCP) is going to a convention in April. However, there have been concerns from some quarters over the silence on its preparation and organisation. Ephraim Nyondo talked to the party’s spokesperson Jolly Kalelo on this and other issues regarding the convention.
In the first place, are you confirming that the convention is on?
I can confirm. Our president made the announcement on February 3 this year. So, the convention is on from April 27 to 29 and it is taking place at Natural Resource College (NRC) in Lilongwe. We are expecting not less than 1 000 delegates from across the country.
Since the announcement, the nation has not heard of a committee that needs to be doing the groundwork of the convention. Why is this the case?
It is not that nothing has been happening. Things are happening. As I am talking, an organising committee has been put up, though I have not got official communication from the president. But within this week, I am certain that I will get the details of it regarding the people who are in it. You know, we need to race against time. There is a lot involved in organising a convention—the bookings, the nominations and all that. So, the moment I get communication from the president [John Tembo], it will be done.
It appears everything about the convention begins and ends with the president. Isn’t it?
No. We have structures. Our National Executive Committee (NEC) meets from time to time to make critical decisions. However, the president has the mandate to appoint members of the organising team.
How many, so far, have indicated the interest to vie for the post of the presidency?
Every bonafide member of MCP has a right to contest on that position as long as he/she meets the legal requirement. However, although I know that some people have already started campaigning for the position and the president is aware, everything being done is unofficial. As such, right now, I cannot go public and disclose the names. What if I mention the name of a person today, and tomorrow that person withdraws? Will people take me seriously? Let us wait for the committee to be in place and then they will officially release the names of the people.
There are strong rumours that MCP will change the law at the convention to accommodate Honourable John Tembo to stand again for the party?
MCP, in the first place, has a constitution which it uses in its every operation. On the presidency, the constitution clearly stipulates that a person is allowed to stand for the presidential position just for two terms. Beyond that, the person should bow out and give a chance to others to contest as well. Looking at the current situation, the constitution bars Honourable Tembo from standing again.
However, constitutions are made by people and the convention is a forum where any change to the constitution occurs. So, it all depends on what the delegates will say—they will decide the outcome.
I am told some people in the party are planning to get an injunction against any move to change the law, but what I can say is that let us cross the bridge when we reach it.
Assuming the party really manages to change the law to accommodate Honourable Tembo to contest; won’t you scare the people that you are a party that changes laws to fit particular individuals?
MCP is a democratic party. It does not just respect its own constitutions but even that of the country. As such, we would not want to be a party that breaks its own constitution. I believe Malawians will not trust us if we play around with our constitution. We will be judged as a party that easily breaks its laws. As such, as its spokesperson, I can righty say here that MCP must respect its own constitution.
As a party, we respect Honourable Tembo so much. He has done a lot for the party to be where it is today. History will really record him a hero. In fact, he is a leader who also believes in democracy.
In terms of finances, who is bankrolling the convention?
MCP has a number of well-wishers. However, it would be wrong for me to be listing those that are funding the convention. I leave that to the organising committee. They will do that in due time. But what I should underline is that a number of well-wishers are ready to part with their millions for this big event.
I just want Malawians to trust MCP. We are not just the oldest party in the country. We are the very stable—not a party contaminated by political prostitution. We do not have recycled politicians. In 2014, we are getting back into government and we will give Malawi a leader they will love and admire.