Controversy is refusing to die in the opposition Malawi Congress Party (MCP) as the faction calling for a national convention has vowed that come July 7 the party’s biggest gathering will proceed.
Yesterday, some disgruntled leaders from the party’s Eastern and Southern political regions insisted the convention will proceed as announced by secretary general Gustav Kaliwo and his deputy Chatonda Kaunda.
Kaliwo and Kaunda announced two weeks ago that the party would be holding its national convention from July 7 to 9 to resolve the growing internal wrangles.
However, the party dismissed the call, describing it as invalid on the basis that only the national executive committee (NEC) has the mandate to call for a national convention, which is expected to take place next year.
The party’s declaration was supported by another group calling itself ‘Legitimate Members of MCP’ comprising district chairpersons and others which dared Kaliwo to resign or wait for 2018.
But speaking yesterday during a news conference held at Bvumbwe in Thyolo, some MCP leaders from Machinga, Zomba and Blantyre said in his position, Kaliwo was mandated to call for a convention following a request to do so from the district chairpersons.
“The secretary general was only conveying the message on behalf of the concerned district chairpersons. So whatever the case the convention is on this July.
“The idea is not to remove our president [Lazarus Chakwera] but to resolve the issues that are gradually eating apart our mighty MCP. So we urge the president and those behind him not to fear the convention,” said Thomas Black, district secretary for Blantyre, who chaired the briefing.
On his part, Harold Nseula, chairperson for Zomba District, claimed leaders from 32 out of 41 MCP political districts are for the convention as such the party leadership has no choice but to give in to the wishes of the majority. He did not list down the said districts.
He said: “They are calling for the resignation of the secretary general and those supporting him, so our stand is that the best and democratic way of getting rid of him is to remove him at the convention, so let us go for it.”
But MCP second deputy secretary general Eisenhower Mkaka said in an interview Black and his colleagues were not legitimate MCP members to comment on party issues because they lost elections.
“According to the judgement of the court delivered on 29 September 2016, those that lost elections have no locus standi [sufficient interest] in the matters of the party, in particular the convention matter. Their continuing to act and comment in this respect is in contempt of the court order,” he said.
But in an interview later, Black said until the convention removes him, he was still MCP leader because no individual member, let alone the president, can remove him from the party.
MCP Eastern Region chairperson Harry Mchilima when contacted yesterday said he was not aware of any leader from the region calling for a convention.
He said: “I am not aware of any conference organised by Eastern Region leaders. They were, perhaps, doing it in their individual capacities and not as MCP because that cannot happen without my endorsement.”
Last week, a Mzuzu-based political commentator Emily Mkamanga warned the party against continued bickering among its rank and file, suggesting the situation was not healthy, especially with general elections two years away. n