Malawi Congress Party (MCP) and People’s Party (PP) on Monday said they are not in any political alliance despite their leaders recently addressing joint rallies in Lilongwe and Mzuzu.
But political scientist Joseph Chunga has observed that the joint rallies could point to possible electoral alliances in the 2019 general elections.
Briefing journalists in Lilongwe yesterday, MCP secretary general Gustav Kaliwo described his party’s working relationship with PP and Alliance for Democracy (Aford) as a solidarity following the arrests of MCP officials last month over a WhatsApp group chat that allegedly plotted to overthrow President Peter Mutharika.
He was apparently referring to the arrests in February this year of MCP national executive committee member Ulemu Msungama and members of Parliament (MPs) Jessie Kabwila (Salima North-West) and Peter Chakhwantha (Lilongw South-West) on treason charges.
Kaliwo, a lawyer by profession, said there was no memorandum of understanding (MoU) between the opposition political parties in Parliament; hence, their relationship could not be described as an alliance or a coalition.
“There is no MoU with PP. There is no alliance with PP. But we welcome the support that the party and Aford have offered MCP during these trying times,” he said.
Kaliwo dismissed suggestions that a PP faction that sympathises with fired executive member, the Reverend Christopher Mzomera Ngwira, could have instigated the violence at a rally in Mzuzu on Sunday jointly addressed by MCP president Lazarus Chakwera, Aford president Enock Chihana and PP third vice-president Kamlepo Kalua.
He said: “We don’t want to be dragged into the PP internal wrangles.”
Chipping in on the working relationship, Kabwila said there were many areas of common interest the three opposition parties have agreed on, notably, food security, governance and education.
During the Mid-year Budget Review Meeting of Parliament, PP supported an MCP-initiated motion on the independence of the Anti-Corruption Bureau (ACB). However, the governing Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) defeated the motion after beefing up its numbers with its parliamentary coalition partner United democratic front(udf)and some independent MPs.
However, some PP officials have questioned the arrangement.
In an interview yesterday, PP spokesperson Ken Msonda said PP’s working relationship with other parties only exists in Parliament.
He said the presence of PP leaders at the joint rallies has no blessings from the party because there was no arrangement or alliance with any party.
But Kalua, who is also Rumphi East MP, said opposition MPs agreed during the just-ended Parliament meeting to address “solidarity rallies” nationwide in the wake of social and economic hardships facing Malawians.
He said: “We are not in alliance with any party, and I know that. These are solidarity rallies which opposition members of Parliament agreed to address. Her Excellency Madam Joyce Banda is aware of this arrangement and she approved it. The acting president [Uladi Mussa] is also aware of this”
On his part, PP member Caesar Fatch, who has declared interest to vie for the presidency at the party’s convention, while condemning the Mzuzu violence, said the confusion in PP would only end if Banda returns home.
Fatch, who withdrew his candidacy challenging Banda at the party’s convention, said attendance of PP officials at the joint rallies being held was confusing PP followers and sending bad signals.
In his interpretation of the developments, Chunga yesterday said in Parliament, there is nothing peculiar for opposition parties to work together by default; hence, the position of leader of opposition.
But Chunga made a distinction between the three-party working relationship and one between UDF and DPP. He described MCP and PP relationship as mere political calculations.
He said: “UDF going to DPP must have motivated the current working relationship between MCP, PP and Aford and I would not be surprised if some of these relations become electoral alliances come 2019 and some parties disband.”
During the May 20 2014 Tripartite Elections, DPP’s presidential candidate Peter Mutharika triumphed followed by Chakwera, then Banda and UDF’s Atupele Muluzi. n