Court cases against main opposition Malawi Congress Party (MCP) and its leadership will delay its national convention slated for this month, The Nation has learnt.
In a communiqué signed by the office of the party’s president Lazarus Chakwera dated March 29 2018, the party says following the reservation by the High Court in Blantyre to lift an injunction obtained by the party’s embattled vice-president Richard Msowoya and four other members, MCP will pend its convention.
According to the statement, some cases are yet to be heard in the High Court, further putting doubts of a convention anytime soon.
“To this end, while these multiple court cases may delay our calendar during this elective period, we shall not undermine our judges’ role in adjudicating over matters brought before them,” reads part of the statement.
In one case, according to the statement “there is a subsisting temporary injunction stopping the Malawi Congress Party from taking disciplinary action against some of its members and from holding its elective convention as of now”.
The suspended faction of Msowoya, which also includes secretary general Gustav Kaliwo, treasurer general Tony Kandiero, deputy secretary general Chatonda Kaunda and fired publicity secretary Jessie Kabwila, obtained the injunction restraining the party from holding a convention.
When asked how these cases will affect the party’s preparations for the convention and by extension next year’s tripartite elections, the party’s deputy secretary general Eisenhower Mkaka said MCP was waiting patiently for the Judiciary’s direction.
“I hope you know that an injunction is a temporary relief so we hope it will be treated as such. We will follow the court’s directions. We cannot comment on how the cases will affect our preparations for the elections because we don’t want to influence the Judiciary in which we have trust,” Mkaka told The Nation yesterday.
But political analysts have warned MCP about the political implications of failing to resolve disputes internally, opting for the courts.
In an interview, Chancellor College-based political scientist Mustafa Hussein said MCP had other ways to resolve these issues before they escalated to this level.
“The party would have used negotiations or third party arbitration. The disadvantages of going to the courts are that it is costly. Secondly, courts tend to give determination on who is wrong or right and this strains relationship in the party,” he said.
Hussein also warned that prolonged disputes will weaken the party.
“There will be factionalism, some will leave the party. As a party heading into elections next year, they needed to project the image of unity to compete favourably with other parties.”
Another Chancellor College political analyst Ernest Thindwa said a political settlement is always better than a legal settlement.
“Chakwera should have demonstrated negotiating skills in preventing this from happening,” he said.
But the statement acknowledges that the party has tried without success to resolve the differences internally.
“Of course, we would have preferred if these political disputes were resolved amicably through internal party processes without resorting to the courts. This is a process we embarked on wholeheartedly but failed,” says the statement.