Alliance for Democracy (Aford) legislator Frank Mwenifumbo, who has been battling with party leader Enoch Chihana for presidency, has shelved his claims to the grouping’s top position pending a fresh convention.
Mwenifumbo, who is member of Parliament (MP) for Karonga Central, said this at a news conference yesterday at the party’s Area 49 office in Lilongwe.
He said: “I, therefore, announce that I have suspended all my campaign activities in a bid to become the president of Aford until such a time when the president and NEC [National Executive Committee] shall decide the date and day of the next convention. In the next few days I will be seeking to meet with the president on how best we can chart the way forward.”
Meanwhile, his erstwhile rival, Chihana, in a telephone interview yesterday, welcomed Mwenifumbo’s peace overture, saying he is ready to work with his colleague.
He said: “This is a welcome development. After all, Aford is for all of us. On the next convention, there will first be a management committee that will meet to draft the agenda for NEC. After that, I will decide dates and venue for the NEC meeting. Soon after the [festive] holidays we will hit the ground running.”
But while the steps towards reconciliation may end months of bitter recriminations between the Chihana and Mwenifumbo camps, it leaves the grouping with little time to prepare for the May 2019 Tripartite Elections.
Not only is the party that was founded by multiparty hero Chakufwa Chihana yet to identify its torchbearer in the polls, it has also not picked candidates for parliamentary and local government contests less than three weeks before the nomination process starts next January.
Mwenifumbo’s contrition was not just in words, but also in the imagery. At the party office, there used to be his portrait side by side on the wall with that of the party founder—the late Chihana. But yesterday, there was Enock Chihana’s portrait where Mwenifumbo’s used to be; father and son together at last.
In words, Mwenefumbo, who throughout the months of the wrangles maintained that he was ready for dialogue, was rueful of the differences that tore the party asunder and weakened it further.
“This infighting is not good, I am tired of it and we would like to sit down and discuss way forward for the sake of the people who love the party.
“I rejoined Aford with the intention of revamping the party and helping to bring constitutional order, which seems to be hard to realise because of in-house fights, which I want to end now,” he said.
Mwenifumbo declared that he is willing to work with Chihana, who is Rumphi Central MP, as the legitimate president according to the 2013 convention after the High Court nullified the May 2018 elective conference the party held at Don Bosco in Lilongwe.
Divisions rocked Aford since May when there were two camps that of Mwenifumbo and Chihana where they all claimed to be presidents until a court decision to nullify the convention.
University of Livingstonia Political analyst George Phiri said the reconciliation efforts should be supported and hoped that the peace will last.
He said: “In politics there are no permanent enemies, there are always grounds people can come together, what Mwenifumbo has done is commendable. If they are doing that for the people it is good, it will be of no importance if they will do it for themselves.”