Opposition Malawi Congress Party (MCP) has moved to quell dissent in the party, dispelling allegations that its leadership is nepotistic and intolerant of other views.
Instead, without elaborating, MCP has alleged that its problems are a result of external influences.
During a news conference in Lilongwe on Monday, MCP alleged that it is not ruling out “outside influences” out to destabilise the party ahead of regional elections in the Northern and Lakeshore political regions at the end of this month.
Addressing journalists, MCP public relations officer Alekeni Menyani confirmed the existence of letters from regional chairpersons of the party dated January 9, 2016, but also a letter from the North-South and North-North regions of MCP.
In the letters, the chairpersons are calling for an emergency convention to root out inconsistencies in implementing the party’s constitution.
The letters also alleged that party president the Reverend Lazarus Chakwera was nepotistic as he had appointed into the National Executive Committee (NEC) mostly people from his native Lilongwe District and removed others when he had no mandate to do so.
Further, the leaders charge that members of Parliament (MPs) were more powerful than NEC members.
But MCP has said an inquiry into the authors of the letter has found that the chairperson for the Eastern Region Abbie Jana and some district chairpersons and committees in the Northern Region denied that the contents of the letter were the result of a consensus of the members at any meeting which took place.
“They are all wondering where this is coming from. We are not saying that our party is perfect, but some of these issues are so minor that they could have been resolved easily. This is why we suspect that there is a third force behind this. The suspect is a party that has financial muscle to destabilise us,” Menyani said without specifically mentioning the party.
Just last week, former governing People’s Party (PP) alleged that the ruling Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) sponsored an injunction stopping the appointment of Uladi Mussa as acting president of the party, an allegation DPP has denied.
However, DPP spokesperson Francis Kasaila is on record as having said Mussa did not deserve the position.
On its part, MCP has brushed aside allegations of nepotism and unconstitutionality in MCP, attributing them to nervousness of the current officer holders ahead of the elections in the North on January 30.
Citing Article 24 of the MCP constitution which states that elections would be held every three years, Menyani conceded that the constitution has been flouted because the current office holders in district and other committees have held the positions since 1992.
“We have let them operate without legitimacy for 24 years and this has been a breach of our constitution in that regard. We believe the solution to these problems should be to legitimise the positions. If they have the support of the people, they will be elected,” he said.
MCP has 42 political districts nationwide, but district elections have been held in the Southern and Central regions so far.
Making his observations on the matter, associate professor of political science at Chancellor College, Mustafa Hussein said the squabbles were only to be expected because leaders were making decisions without involving those at the grass-roots level.
He said: “Within parties in Malawi, policy-based politics is not entrenched because of the founders syndrome. Members are busy jostling for power in an unethical manner instead of building the party. If there is no transparency and accountability, the squabbles will continue.”
Hussein said he was not surprised that DPP was being accused of destabilising other parties such as PP considering that it was an offshoot of DPP.
“As long as members of political parties are given adequate room to air their views, external influences in the running of the party would be remote,” he said.
However, Hussein advised MCP to shed its image of a Central Region party by giving adequate attention to the South and Northern regions in its operations.
Among others, in August last year Chakwera reshuffled the MCP NEC by moving around some old faces and roping in new ones.
New faces introduced into the NEC then included former deputy minister of Finance Cornelius Mwalwanda and former Blantyre City Central MP Eunice Makangala who served in Cabinets of former presidents Bingu wa Mutharika (deceased) and Joyce Banda under the banners of DPP and PP.
Chakwera, who is also leader of opposition in Parliament, spared his vice-presidents Richard Msowoya and Mac Lombola.
The MCP leader also drafted into the NEC former speaker of parliament Louis Chimango as legal adviser to replace Lewis Chakhwantha who was moved to head the youth committee and replaced Lobin Lowe who is now the organising secretary.