Embattled Malawi Congress Party (MCP) secretary general Gustave Kaliwo has obtained a court order stopping the opposition party from holding a convention reportedly scheduled for this Friday in Lilongwe.
The order that Nation Online has seen is signed by High Court judge Michael Tembo and dated May 7 2018.
In the order, the judge said MCP is not supposed to hold a convention until matters relating to the suspension of Kaliwo and three others— first vice-president Richard Msowoya, treasurer general Tony Kandiero and deputy secretary general James Chatonda Kaunda—and the firing of publicity secretary Jessie Kabwila are resolved.
Reads the order in part: “This order restrains you or any other persons from inviting the claimants to disciplinary inquiries and from suspending them also from convening a convention of the party until trial of the action or until further order of the court.”
The fresh injunction comes against a background of the High Court in Blantyre on Monday ruling in favour of MCP after Kaliwo and others had obtained an order stopping the party’s national executive committee (NEC) from implementing some of its decisions which also affected the convention it was organising.
The convention, which was scheduled for April 29 this year, failed to take place in the face of the restraint.
Meanwhile, MCP has called for an emergency NEC meeting today at the party’s national headquarters in Lilongwe, according to an internal memo Nation Online has seen, dated May 7 2018 and signed by the party’s administrative secretary Wikiford Sulamoyo.
However , the communication did not state the agenda of the meeting only indicating that people will know the agenda right at the meeting.
But MCP sources confided in the Nation Online that, among other issues, the meeting has been called to discuss dates of the convention.
Both the party’s spokesperson Ezekiel Ching’oma and deputy s e c r e t a r y g e n e r a l Eisenhower Mkaka refused to disclose the date of the planned convention or the agenda of the emergency general meeting, saying they will grant media interviews after NEC has met.
Said Mkaka: “Wait until tomorrow [today]10am, I cannot tell you anything now on that subject. The NEC will meet and we will brief the media later.”
Analysts have described the misunderstandings and legal battles going on in MCP as an indication that the party is not following its constitution on how to deal with internal matters.
University of Livingstonia political analyst George Phiri said in an interview that the party needs to follow its constitution or else the legal battles will not end.
He said: “This means that the issue was supposed to be resolved within the party. Every party has a constitution and its constitution has a provision to deal with conflict within party members are failing to resolve their disagreements on their own. That is why there is one injunction after another.” it; so, here it shows that the
Phiri also faulted the party officials for not following a court ruling which advised them to reinstate the suspended officials, saying if it followed the orders the issues could not have reached this far.
He said: “It is obvious that they needed to reinstate the positions, according to one ruling of the courts. The party’s constitution provides that the SG [the secretary general] is the one who is supposed to call for the convention.
“So, it is difficult for the party to hold the convention with their SG suspended, as the ones holding the positions in the party are legally not binding. The legally acceptable person to call for the convention is Gustave Kaliwo.”
Kaliwo, Msowoya and others fell out with party president Lazarus Chakwera after they questioned, in a letter to Chakwera, his commitment to following the MCP constitution. They expressed their d i s a g r e e m e n t w i t h their boss’ handling of appointments for leadership positions in the party.
B u t w h i l e t h e disagreements in the party may have become a prominent issue now because of the high profile protests, the problems in MCP have festered for at least two years, even reaching courts of law.