Some disgruntled Malawi Congress Party (MCP) members have asked the party’s President Lazarus Chakwera to disclose details of the “agreement” he signed with Vice-President Saulosi Chilima ahead of the June 23 2020 fresh presidential election.
The group, led by Samson Chaziya who is district secretary for Lilongwe Rural East district, met Chakwera on Monday at State House in Lilongwe, where they once against presented their concerns.
Other members of the group, present during the meeting included constituency chairpersons Binalison Mmbali, Hardwel Kachibekete, Matthews Kasinda and Davie Kaponda.
When asked about the meeting, State House press secretary Brian Banda was elusive save for saying that meetings between the President and members of his party are internal.
Secrecy has engulfed the said agreement, with some people speculating that as part of the deal Chakwera will not contest in 2025, to allow Chilima to contest for the presidency.
Chilima is also on record as saying during the campaign prior to the June 23 court-sanctioned fresh presidential election, that the presidency will rotate between the Tonse Alliance major partners—MCP and UTM party.
The MCP concerned members’ publicity secretary Alex Major, who also attended the said meeting with Chakwera, confirmed in an interview that one of the issues raised during the meeting was about contents of the memorandum of understanding (MoU) between the two leaders.
A copy of the presentation made during the meeting with Chakwera, which Weekend Nation has seen, reads, in part: “MCP members are asking for access to the document which you signed with Alliance partners. This will allow members to be appraised with what is in the document. It must be remembered that the final say on matters of this nature are not wholly in your hands but rather the party.”
The document adds: “We need to be mindful that your mandate ends in 2023. So, it is important that we handle matters with care as we contemplate to renew it.”
Major, who is also former MP for Kasungu West, said Chakwera was fully committed to the request and asked for more time to consult before responding.
Said Major: “During our interaction with the President, the mood was very good, but our impression was that the President is being misled by some of his closest allies.” He did not elaborate.
On his part, Chaziya said during the meeting, the members were allowed to speak freely, adding that “Chakwera seemed interested in the discussion”.
On May 14 this year, during Kamuzu Day Commemoration in Blantyre, MCP campaign director Moses Kunkuyu sparked controversy when he said Chakwera will contest for the presidency in 2025.
Kunkuyu observed that both the party and country’s Constitutions allow Chakwera to seek another term in 2025.
“These facts will remain since they are inscribed in the two constitutions, but no statement can stop people from forming alliances or working relationships today or in future,” said Kunkuyu.
Chakwera is serving the second term as MCP president having first been elected as party president in 2014.
Part 3 of the MCP constitution provides that the members of the National Executive Committee shall be elected by the Convention of the party every five years except for the president who shall hold such office for two terms only if elected for a second term.
Part 4 of the constitution further says notwithstanding Article 30 (3), the President shall be eligible to contest for an additional term if s/he is elected State President during his second term in the party.
Political commentator Mustapha Hussein, in a telephone interview on Thursday, observed that what the ‘Concerned MCP members’ are asking for is not bizarre, and the information ought to have been made known to the party membership at the time of signing the agreement.
He questioned MCP’s decision-making system, wondering whether it is centralised saying such ought not to be the case.
“There is need for some degree of transparency and accountability in the alliance partners; unless it is very confidential information, but the information on the agreement does not qualify to be ‘confidential’. Leadership of all the alliance partners has to be clear on what was agreed. And members have to appreciate what is on the table.”
The group also raised issues that were also in an earlier petition it presented to the President but, according to Major, Chakwera claimed the petition did not reach him.