The storm in the opposition Malawi Congress Party (MCP) is far from over with embattled secretary general Gustave Kaliwo stressing that his team will not vacate an injunction stopping the party from holding a convention despite being reinstated.
Kaliwo’s reaction in an interview on Wednesday followed an MCP emergency national executive committee (NEC) resolution to reinstate him, first deputy president Richard Msowoya, first deputy secretary general James Chatonda and director of international relations Tony Kandiero who were suspended from their respective positions. The meeting also reinstated the expelled publicity secretary Jessie Kabwila.
“I would like to announce here that NEC resolved to lift the suspensions and dismissal [of the five] to reinstate all of the above into their positions and the party, respectively, with immediate effect in the interest of party cohesion so that the party moves forward in unison towards achieving the bigger objective of providing Malawians with an alternative government with a brighter future,” said MCP second deputy president MacDonald Lombola in announcing the development.
He said MCP understands that the members suspended and dismissed have a desire to work as a team together with the NEC which they are members of.
But in separate interviews on Wednesday , both Kaliwo and Msowoya said they were not aware of the NEC decision as they were yet to be communicated to.
They also stressed the need to resolve matters first before dancing to the tune of MCP party officials.
Kaliwo said he was not going to lift the injunction his group obtained until outstanding issues are resolved. He said it was hypocritical for MCP to claim to have reinstated them when in actual fact it was the courts which gave them relief.
He said: “To answer your question on the status of the injunction, my answer is ‘NO’. It was proper for the party just to say that they are complying with the injunction that the court gave them and that they are complying with it than saying they have reinstated us in the party. We need to resolve other issues first then we can say we are on the same boat.”
Kaliwo said he was ready for dialogue and that his stand to sustain the injunction on the convention does not mean he was against dialogue. He said he has been calling for dialogue since 2016, but party president Lazarus Chakwera obtained an injunction, a move that worsened matters; leading to their suspension.
Msowoya, who is also Speaker of the National Assembly, reiterated Kaliwo’s position that there is nothing new in the party’s announcement as they were bona fide members elected at a convention.
He said: “The issue at hand is that the party is just following the court orders that told them to follow what is in the constitution of the party. The problem with you journalists is that you are just getting the story midway. If you follow the story correctly you can be able to report correctly on what is happening.
“It is not that we do not want a convention to take place. All of us need the convention to take place. But what we wanted was for the party to follow court orders which said it was good for us to follow our own constitution which provides that any member who was elected from a convention cannot be fired.”
Msowoya said MCP was using an illegitimate NEC other than the one duly elected at its convention.
On Tuesday, the High Court in Blantyre granted an injunction to Kaliwo and four others restraining the party from holding a convention unless the two sides resolved matters that arose due to their suspension.
University of Livingstonia political analyst George Phiri on Wednesday applauded MCP for the bold decision of following the court order by reinstating the members, but said the party needs to strategise on how to resolve the misunderstandings and try to get the side of Kaliwo and others on why they have remained adamant on