Some Malawi Congress Party (MCP) district chairpersons have demanded an apology from a section of the party’s legislators who they accuse of interfering in the management of the country’s oldest political party.
Briefing journalists in Lilongwe on Saturday, the district chairpersons faulted the members of Parliament (MPs) for holding a meeting last week where they tackled the ongoing internal wrangle pitting MCP president Lazarus Chakwera and a faction comprising party secretary general (SG) Gustave Kaliwo, first vice-president Richard Msowoya, second vice-president Macdonald Lombola, deputy SG James Kaunda and replaced treasurer general Tony Kandiero.
The MCP district chairpersons, who addressed the meeting and demanded an apology from the legislators, included John Chiluzi-Phiri from Chikwawa, Jimmy Chisenga of Kasungu, Foloma Mwale from Mchinji, Keliyasi Chanza from Mwanza, Peter Laisoni Phiri from Mulanje, Isaac Nyirenda-Mphepo from Nkhata Bay and Ephraim Tengeletu from Dowa.
The chairpersons argued that the MCP constitution does not give the party’s MPs any powers to call for such a meeting to discuss intra-party politics or infighting or even to call for the removal of any elected official.
Said Foloma Mwale: “How can educated MPs start fighting their own members? Where have they gotten powers to start calling for meetings? Did they consult their constituents? They need to apologise. It is not in their power to do that. This is a party, not Parliament. If they think we are joking, then come 2019 we will de-campaign them.”
During their meeting on Tuesday, the MCP legislators recommended to the MCP national executive committee (NEC) that a convention be held by March 26 2018.
The legislators also endorsed the candidature of politician Mohammad Sidik Mia for the position of the party’s vice-president at the next convention.
They also faulted Kaliwo over his signature in a January 13 2018 letter to Chakwera, describing it as one of the pointers to his incompetence. The MPs called for Kaliwo’s suspension.
Reacting to the district chairpersons’ position, Lilongwe Msinja South legislator Lingson Belekanyama, one of the estimated 35 out of MCP’s 60 MPs who attended the Tuesday meeting, laughed off the threats, saying the MPs owe no one an apology for expressing their views.
In an interview yesterday, he said the lawmakers, like any other party member, have every right to petition NEC whenever they have grievances.
Said Belekanyama: “The district chairpersons don’t have what it takes to de-campaign people like Belekanyama. These district chairpersons are only being used by the ‘rebels’ who want to further bring disunity in our party and sadly they [district chairpersons] seem not to know this.
“We cannot apologise and let them know that as MPs we will not stand and watch while some ‘rebels’ try and destroy the party.”
Other MCP legislators, including Msowoya—who is also Speaker of the National Assembly, Joseph Njovuyalema (Lilongwe Mapuyu South), Juliana Lunguzi (Dedza East), Jessie Kabwila (Salima North-East) and Khumbize Chiponda (Kasungu South East did not attend the meeting.
The MPs’ meeting last Tuesday was prompted by the letter written by Kaliwo, Msowoya, Lombola, Kandiero and Kaunda accusing Chakwera of going against his own words and flouting the party’s constitution.
Reacting to the MPs’ position in an earlier interview with The Nation, Kaliwo, a lawyer by profession, accused the legislators of attempting to usurp the party president’s powers by reacting to the issue raised in the letter addressed to him.
He said: “The letter [to Chakwera] was courteous and we expected a response from the president, either to go on with the management meeting or call for consultations. The MPs should give president Chakwera a chance to respond to the letter, not exerting pressure on him in this manner.” n