Malawi Congress Party (MCP), the country’s oldest political party, has been warned against continued bickering among its rank and file with an analyst suggesting the situation is not healthy, especially with general elections two years away.
Mzuzu-based political analyst Emily Mkamanga said in an interview yesterday it was high time MCP acted like the oldest party in the country and the official opposition by respecting its constitution.
She said: “It is very unfortunate that the party is still fighting with only two years remaining to the general elections. It is the oldest party and was supposed to be exemplary. I understand some external influence cannot be ruled out.
“Some people tend to listen a lot to other parties and this is affecting the party and destroying it in turn.”
Mkamanga was reacting to developments yesterday that saw a group calling itself ‘Legitimate Members of MCP’, comprising regional chairpersons and others, which dared secretary general Gustave Kaliwo to resign or wait for 2018 when the party will hold a convention to elect new office bearers.
Kaliwo and his deputy Chatonda Kaunda last week joined the pro-convention faction in the party and announced the party would hold a convention on July 7 to 9 this year.
They argued that the call follows growing concerns from some of the party’s regional and district leadership.
But MCP dismissed the calls, saying only the national executive committee (NEC) can call for a convention.
Yesterday, the members, during a news conference at MCP National Headquarters in Lilongwe, said the calls by Kaliwo and Kaunda to hold a convention were against the party’s constitution and that Kaliwo has no power to call for such.
Making the statement on behalf of the regional chairpersons, Harry Mchilima said their party’s constitution clearly indicates that there is no law allowing the secretary general to call for an emergency convention.
He said: “According to the constitution of our party in section 4 subsection 39-45, there is no where the constitution gives power to the secretary general to hold a convention. It is only NEC which is allowed to call for any convention.”
Mchilima accused Kaliwo and his colleagues of misleading the party membership, alleging that they were being influenced by external forces to destabilise the party.
He added: “And for him to call for the resignation of the president [Lazarus Chakwera], it is uncalled for. Kaliwo himself is the rightful candidate that needs to voluntarily resign from the party.”
But Kaliwo said last week that during meetings with 23 district committees nationwide he was asked to call for an early or emergency convention. His news conference in Blantyre was attended by several MCP district chairpersons.
Kaliwo, a lawyer, said Article 40 of the MCP constitution provides that an emergency convention can be called by the party’s two thirds majority of the NEC or at the request of more than half of the district committees.
In an earlier interview, University of Malawi political analyst Happy Kayuni observed that a convention was fundamental to the party and having two different versions from people with key positions, notably Kaliwo and Chakwera, was an indication that something was wrong.
He said: “It implies that there is a lot of politicking within the party which is not in good faith. This is a clear indication that the party is not in order and indeed intraparty democracy leaves a lot to be desired.”
In recent months, MCP has been embroiled in internal wrangles that first saw some members calling for Chakwera’s resignation. The party reacted by firing some vocal critics and suspending others. n