Embattled opposition Malawi Congress Party (MCP) president Lazarus Chakwera says the party’s National Executive Committee (NEC) has expelled some of its members to create room for rebuilding because it has conclusive information that they were the cause of confusion within its ranks.
During a NEC meeting held on Wednesday, MCP resolved to expel second deputy director for strategic planning and member of Parliament (MP) for Salima Central Felix Jumbe and suspended publicity secretary Jessie Kabwila and Lilongwe Mapuyu South MP Joseph Njobvuyalema.
The party has also expelled Lyton Dzombe who once contested against Chakwera at the 2013 convention, Chatinkha Chidzanja-Nkhoma, Dennis Nanthumba, a Gwazantini and Isaac Jere who were allegedly connected to the botched plot to burn down MCP headquarters last week.
Chidzanja-Nkhoma dismissed the NEC decision, saying she never applied to become an MCP member and Chakwera could not stop her from being one.
She said: “The party cannot fire us without due processes. Why did the NEC not invite us to hear our side of the story? As a leader aspiring to become a national leader, he [Chakwera] should have democratic tendencies.”
Chakwera said the NEC was satisfied by a report from the Salima Central constituency committee indicating that Jumbe’s actions were contrary to the party’s doctrines and bringing confusion at the grassroots level.
On why the two members have been suspended before being heard, Chakwera told a news conference yesterday that MCP believed in the rules of natural justice and this could only be realised if the legislators were no longer in their positions to influence the outcome of the investigations.
MCP is investigating allegations that Kabwila and Njobvuyalema masterminded the attempt to takeover and ‘bomb’ the party headquarters.
“Looking at the gravity of the allegation, NEC decided to suspend the two while subjecting them to a disciplinary process managed by a disciplinary committee that was constituted by NEC with effect from August 31 2016,” Chakwera said.
The committee has 30 days to investigate and call for a hearing of the suspended legislators before a decision is made.
Chakwera said the legislators’ positions in Parliament would remain secure until a decision of the disciplinary committee is communicated to the NEC after which a final decision would be made.
He said before the NEC resolved to suspend and expel some of its members, he had made an effort to discuss their grievances, but the efforts had yielded no positive results.
Said Chakwera: “The party at the grassroots has complained about their actions for too long. I know some have accused me of not listening to other people’s views. If I had done so, this action would have been taken a long time ago.”
The party has also refused to rule out external interference but admitted that these were merely taking advantage of the disunity clearly prevalent in MCP to sow seeds of discontent among its politburo.
However, Chakwera stressed that MCP remained a strong contender of the ruling Democratic Progressive Party in 2019 and all indications from across the breadth of the country were that the party would triumph if elections were held today.
His assertions are, however, contrary to a recent Economic Intelligence Unit (EIU) analysis which indicated that opposition political parties in the country have no chance of mounting a successful challenge of the current government even as allegations of government corruption and cost of living continues to go up.
EIU said MCP and its leader, Chakwera, would struggle to offer any viable policy alternatives by 2019 due to internal wrangles which have ended in the courts and would only stand to gain should an economic recovery fail to take place before the polls.
Meanwhile, Kabwila who said she had heard news of her suspension asked for more time before responding to the party’s decision. n