The Malawi Congress Party (MCP) national executive committee (NEC) on Thursday cancelled the party’s convention which was scheduled to start tomorrow at the Bingu International Conference Centre in Lilongwe to, among others, elect the party’s presidential candidate for next year’s elections.
Speaking in an interview Thursday after a day-long NEC meeting at MCP president John Tembo’s Area 10 residence in Lilongwe, MCP convention director Joseph Njobvuyalema said they have cancelled the convention because they have failed to raise the required funds for the meeting.
He said there were also logistical challenges on accommodation of the delegates.
Said Njobvuyalema: “We have postponed the convention to a later date because we want to sort out all problems which we have.”
He said out of the K35 million (about $84 000) budgeted for the convention, they have only managed to raise K20 million (about $48 000), saying they need the other K15 million (about $36 000) to hold the convention.
“We also planned to accommodate our delegates at Natural Resources College [NRC], but the college’s students are still on campus. We only managed to get accommodation for 200 people yet we have 700 delegates.
“We started looking for accommodation in scattered rest houses which we felt would have presented a big problem to provide transport to ferry all the delegates to the venue of the convention,” said Njobvuyalema.
The cancellation also came against the background of some delegates from the party’s political regions rejecting the process of submitting nomination papers for aspirants and later scrutinising them by the accreditation committee, effectively declaring the process as null and void.
The delegates said the normal process is that aspirants for various MCP NEC positions, including the presidency, are nominated and seconded by delegates at the convention and not through submission of nomination papers to the party’s administrative secretary.
Several members of some MCP regional committees yesterday said they have written the party’s NEC on their rejection of the process of using nomination papers for aspirants of position to be contested at the convention and use of the eight-point checklist to scrutinise aspirants which could see some of the nominees disqualified.
“We have written NEC that the process which it has followed is not provided for in the party’s constitution. I am the one who delivered the letter to administrative secretary Potiphar Chidaya on Tuesday asking NEC to stop the process,” said MCP lakeshore regional secretary Wellington Katsokwe Mwale.
Nkhotakota Central Member of Parliament Edwin Banda, a lawyer by profession, yesterday said the regional committees have rejected the nomination process, adding the eight-point checklist developed to scrutinise aspirants for the party’s NEC positions is illegal.
In an earlier interview on Wednesday, Chidaya also confirmed that the party’s members from several regions have rejected the nomination papers.
But Njobvuyalema said there was nothing wrong with the nomination papers because they reflect the current trends in handling of conventions.
Apart from Tembo, other people who have submitted nomination papers for MCP presidency are newly retired chief justice Lovemore Munlo, Malawi Assemblies of God president the Reverend Dr Lazarus Chakwera, former Cabinet minister Jodder Kanjere, former Farmers Union of Malawi (Fum) president Felix Jumbe, former secretary general Betson Majoni, the party’s former director of political affairs Eston Kakhome and secretary general Chris Daza.
The checklist, among others, says aspirants should be persons with “good and sound” education background who have not served any other political party in Malawi and have no criminal record for the past seven years.