Serious cracks have emerged in the Alliance for Democracy (Aford) between its leader Enoch Chihana and some members of the national governing council (NGC).
The members have allegedly described Chihana as a dictator for suspending the December 16 convention and the Revamp Aford Movement (Ramo).
But Chihana, in an interview on Wednesday, denied being a dictator, saying all he wants is sanity so that the party holds a fair and credible convention which would satisfy all members.
The party’s secretary general Christopher Ritchie said on Wednesday he is still of the view that the convention should be held on December 16 2017, and not in April 2018, claiming that many well-wishers are supporting the indaba.
A member of the NGC, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said since returning from South Africa last Sunday, Chihana has been summoning members to meetings where, among other issues, he has been imposing on them ideas on how the party should be run.
The NGC member, among others, said Chihana told them that he has shifted the December 16 convention to April, and that those who want to contest during the convention should have served in the party for two years or more.
Said the source: “He said the convention would no longer be held on December 16, but in April next year without explaining proper reasons. He also fired Central Region chairman Nicholas Kamoto and replaced him with Chambwe Kasekela without even asking for our advice.
“Thereafter, he told us that he was suspending Ramo because it is bringing chaos in the party. He also said he wants secretary general to be removed from his position because he is working with Ramo. Nobody was contributing during the meeting.”
The source said they have been in meetings since his arrival on Sunday up to yesterday [Wednesday] where these issues were being outlined.
“What he [Chihana] wants is that he doesn’t want someone to contest with him on the presidency like Frank Mwenifumbo, but this is unconstitutional. So we want him to step down before the convention. We want democracy!”
But Ritchie said he was not part of the said meetings, but heard from some people what the president had allegedly done; hence, he called him for details.
“I asked him why he has already publicised that the convention dates have shifted yet the chairperson of the convention is not aware of the change. As far as I am concerned, the date for the convention remains the same because I need to understand why it’s being shifted.
“There are a lot of commitments coming from well-wishers and we can manage to have this convention by December. I need to sit down with him to tell me why changing dates,” he said.
But Chihana said he had been petitioned by district chairpersons on the convention, adding, the chairpersons have queried why they were not properly informed on the date for the convention.
“In Aford, we have been talking about revamping the party, but we have not visited many districts that we can talk about a convention. Every district has to re-organise itself and have proper delegates who will vote during the convention,” he said.
Chihana said an emergency NEC meeting on Tuesday agreed to shift the dates for the convention, further confirming that Ramo has been suspended.
“Ramo has been making comments contradicting the leadership of the party, which is against the tenets and values of Aford, so they have been suspended because it seems they have got a different agenda,” he said.
Chihana also confirmed the suspension of Kamoto because of using the party to advance his goals and that every member of Aford, including Mwenifumbo will be allowed to contest on any position they aspire.
Mwenifumbo, who is parliamentarian for Karonga Central Constituency, declined to comment on the matter. He is currently in Uganda on parliamentary duties.
Meanwhile, political analyst Joseph Chunga has questioned whether suspending Ramo means also suspending people that were trying to garner morale for the party.
“As far as I am concerned, the revamping Aford was still at high level, it had not really gone down to the grass roots. So, the grass roots may not be affected by this. But Aford is still weak as evidenced in the opinion surveys and previous elections,” he said.