Three Malawi Congress Party (MCP) legislators—Jessie Kabwila, Joseph Njobvuyalema and Felix Jumbe—on Wednesday shunned the party’s national executive committee (NEC) meeting despite being invited with Kabwila citing security concerns.
Kabwila, who is Salima North-West Member of Parliament (MP), is a NEC member by virtue of being publicity secretary whereas Jumbe, Salima Central legislator, is second deputy director for strategic planning.
In an interview on Wednesday, Kabwila, who is one of the NEC members accused of causing dissent in MCP alongside Jumbe and Lilongwe Mapuyu South MP Njobvuyalema, said she could not attend a meeting at a venue she was accused of plotting to torch down. The meeting was held at MCP headquarters in City Centre.
She said: “I cannot lie. They [MCP secretariat] invited everybody. But there is no way people can tell me I am invited to a place where I am accused of having tried to burn down. People have been beaten [at the premises] allegedly because of me.”
During a visit to the MCP headquarters complex in Lilongwe yesterday, The Nation learnt that Dedza North-west MP Alekeni Menyani was barred from the meeting while party secretary general Gustave Kaliwo was stopped from meeting party president Lazarus Chakwera.
Said a source: “He [Kaliwo] has not been in agreement with the approach the party has taken on Jessie Kabwila and wanted to meet the president before the meeting, but [Chakwera’s bodyguard] Khamisa barred him and ordered him to go straight to the meeting. He [Kaliwo] instead immediately left the premises.”
In recent months, Kaliwo has not been in the spotlight on MCP business. Instead, it has been his deputy, Eisenhower Mkaka, who has been speaking on party policies, including confirmation of yesterday’s NEC meeting.
Kaliwo could not be drawn into explaining his U-turn and absence at the meeting as he did not pick his phone after several calls.
After the meeting that ended around 8.30pm, Mkaka confirmed that Kabwila, Jumbe and Njobvuyalema did not turn up and gave no reason for their absence.
He also confirmed that the agenda was broad and that the meeting covered several issues, including calls for early convention and the position the party should take after the High Court in Lilongwe recently dismissed a case in which district chairpersons were calling for a party convention following a reshuffle and introduction of new positions place last year.
Part 3 and Article 30:2 of the MCP Constitution provides: “The members of the National Executive Committee shall be elected by the Convention of the party every five years provided that for the position of the President, he will hold such office for two terms only if elected for the second term.”
However, MCP has argued that the national convention would be called in due course to confirm appointments made by the party president.
The party was expected to issue a communique after adoption of resolutions. But Mkaka said Chakwera is expected to address a news conference today to respond to media queries on developments in his party.
A source who attended the meeting said Chakwera, upon entering the meeting room, asked the whereabouts of Kaliwo, an indication that the party president was not aware the SG had been barred from meeting him earlier on.
The source also said some delegates proposed that Kabwila, Njobvuyalema and Jumbe be suspended alongside members of regional committees in the Southern and Central regions who pushed for the convention.
However, according to the source, the meeting resolved not to suspend anyone. Instead, said the source, the meeting recommended that the three legislators be heard by a special committee to get their side of the story.
Said the source: “Some delegates reasoned that if the party was going to suspend every critical voice then who would remain in the party.”
There have been reports of divisions in MCP, the second biggest party in Parliament by representation, with allegations that some NEC members were being sponsored by external forces to divide the party.