What is happening in the Malawi Congress Party (MCP) where senior members have drawn daggers at each other regarding the holding of a convention could also happen in the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP).
MCP has not been able to hold a convention after its embattled secretary general Gustav Kaliwo obtained an injunction for the indaba. The party suspended Kaliwo alongside its vice-president Richard Msowoya, first deputy secretary general James Chatonda Kaunda and director of international relations Tony Kandiero.
This week, the party’s National Executive Committee (NEC) reinstated the three including its expelled publicity secretary Jessie Kabwila to their respective positions. At the time of writing this article, Kaliwo said he was not aware of the reinstatement stressing that there was need to first resolve outstanding issues. These issues could be folder for discussion on another day.
What is clear though is that the party still has a lot of groundwork to do to make all its members sit around the same table and work in unison. Suffice to say such a move is important in view of the forthcoming elections which are only 12 months away. More so if the party sees itself as a government-in-waiting. Time is not on its side.
What has rocked MCP could also happen in the DPP. The party now has two factions. One group wants President Peter Mutharika to be the party’s torch bearer in next year’s elections while the other is in favour of vice-president Saulos Chilima. While APM has openly declared his candidature for the presidency, Chilima has not said anything.
But for APM to get the mandate of the party to stand as its presidential candidate, DPP needs to hold a convention to endorse him. So far, the party has said it would hold a convention although it has not set a date for the all-important function.
During the previous elections, DPP held its indaba on April 13 2013. But deep into May, nobody in DPP is talking about when the party will hold a convention. Of course, the party’s spokesperson, Francis Katsaila has downplayed the time factor saying it is not a concern because “we have always been preparing for the elections. A convention is, therefore, just a constitutional requirement. Otherwise the mandate of office bearers elected in the last conference is still intact.” But this is not entirely true. Katsaila would do well to read his party’s constitution which in Section 10 states what is supposed to happen. All it states is that members can be re-elected.
What is known is that the party’s National Governing Council (NGC) is yet to meet to chart the way forward. There are, however, hushed tones among the party’s politburo to do so if what the party’s secretary general Greselder Jeffrey in a telephone conversion with Minister of Local Government and Rural Development Kondwani Nankhumwa which has gone viral on social media is anything to go by. In the conversation, Jeffrey is calling for an urgent NGC to sort out the mess. It should be everyone’s guess that one such issue is the matter about the convention.
Article 10 (1) of the DPP Constitution states that the NGC shall be the governing body of the party. It further states that the members of the NGC shall be elected at the National Political Conference (NPC) for a period of five years. DPP held its last NPC in 2013. According to Article 10, the NPC is also mandated to endorse all interim appointments. There are many such appointments in the DPP NGC.
This is the axe the pro-Chilima faction could wield to delay the DPP convention if the party will not seal all loopholes or if the party is not accommodative of dissenting views.
The point I am making is that it is absolutely important that DPP should tread carefully to avoid the embarrassment that has rocked MCP and the Alliance for Democracy (Aford). Problems the two parties are facing arise from the different manner in which their members interpret their respective constitutions. n