Malawi Congress Party (MCP) legislators have endorsed the candidature of politician Sidik Mia for the position of the party’s vice-president at the next convention.
The MPs held a meeting yesterday in which they discussed the ongoing sour relationship between MCP president Lazarus Chakwera and another camp where the party vice-president and Speaker Richard Msowoya belongs.
A communiqué issued at the end of their meeting endorsed the open door policy allowing all who are interested to join MCP to contest for any position at the convention.
When informed that Mia had announced his intention to contest, member of Parliament (MP) for Dowa East Richard Chimwendo Banda said this was welcome.
“As indicated in the communiqué, the MPs welcome any person to join us and contest at the convention—from the North, South and Centre. We welcome that Mia has declared which position he wants to contest and we will fully support him,” he said, speaking for the MPs.
The organisers of the meeting did not invite Msowoya even though he is an MCP MP. There was a unanimous agreement that the meeting was about him and other leaders of the party who authored a letter to Chakwera accusing him of flouting the party constitution.
Chakwera, who was not present at yesterday’s meeting, allegedly called for a management meeting on Saturday, January 13, 2017, which included directors who the original top brass said should not be part of the management committee.
Explaining Msowoya’s absence, Lilongwe Msinja South legislator Lingson Belekanyama said being the subject of the meeting, it was not necessary to invite the Speaker.
He implied that MCP regretted endorsing Msowoya for the position of Speaker because he had turned around to betray the president of the party.
“The Speaker is not an independent member, he was elected as an MCP MP. We have learnt our lesson and we will not elect a senior member of the party as Speaker. We did not do justice to the president [Chakwera] for giving him a speaker who could turn around and stab him in the back,” Belekanyama said.
When contacted for his comment on the MPs remarks. Msowoya opted to have The Nation speak to secretary general Gustave Kaliwo.
Kaliwo also bore the brunt of the MPs anger as they recommended his suspension on charges of incompetence for failing to show policy direction in the party.
His signature on the January 13, 2018 letter to Chakwera was described as one of the reasons that he had shown his incompetence.
“He has absented himself from a management meeting which he himself called without communicating to any member about a postponement. He has absented himself from major party functions for two years including the whole period of the six by-elections held in October without giving any reason,” the communiqué reads.
In an interview, Kaliwo wondered at the timing and coincidence of the calls for his suspension when the MPs had a lot of time to point out where he was not doing well.
“I find this whole issue disingenuous. If I was that incompetent all along, what has made them say it now? I find it unfair that my telephone number is always available but they chose to address their issues with me to the media,” he said.
Kaliwo accused the MPs of trying to usurp the MCP president’s powers by reacting to the issue of the letter.
“The letter was courteous and we expected a response from the president, either to go on with the management meeting or call for consultations. The MPs should give president Chakwera a chance to respond to the letter, not exerting pressure on him in this manner,” he said.
The embattled SG said while everyone was welcome to join the party and contest at the convention, the members should not be selective on who could challenge for certain positions and who could not.
MCP has close to 60 MPs but close to 35 were present at the meeting where the likes of Joseph Njobvuyalema, Juliana Lunguzi, Jessie Kabwila and Khumbize Chiponda were absent.
In their communiqué, the MPs also recommended to the MCP NEC that a convention be held by March 26, 2018. n