Malawi Congress Party (MCP) district chairpersons from the Northern Region have backed party president Lazarus Chakwera in the rift which some quarters in the party believe is being fuelled by party second deputy director (strategic planning) Felix Jumbe.
Jumbe has been implicated in the rift having described as illegal his demotion from campaign director to deputise Moses Khombe in strategic planning, but he denies spearheading it.
During a meeting at MCP regional offices in Mzuzu over the weekend, the district leaders also described as confusionists concerned people who have been collecting signatures for a petition against Chakwera’s recent reshuffle and expansion of the party’s national executive committee (NEC).
Currently, private practice lawyer Edwin Banda has petitioned Chakwera to call for an emergency convention where delegates can elect new leaders to replace the new-look executive he singlehandedly unveiled on July 27.
“We vehemently refute the blatant lie that was put on radio that we, district leaders in the Northern Region, do not want Chakwera as MCP president. We want to assure you that we are solidly behind the current party president. We want to assure you that our presidential candidates for 2019 are Dr Lazarus Chakwera and his vice-president Richard Msowoya,” said Nkhata Bay chairperson Manase Chiumia.
His backing for Chakwera to be MCP presidential candidate should further rile the petitioners who argue that the recent appointments are null and void because only a national convention has constitutional powers to elect the (NEC).
They believe Chakwera erred by making the appointments, saying his mandate to take the decision expired when he did so shortly after the 2013 convention.
“Chakwera has taken out the party from doldrums and it is now picking up. Last year, the party produced two MPs in the North, a thing that was almost impossible previously. In last month’s Local Government by-elections, our councillor scooped Chibanja Ward in Mzuzu,” Chiumia said.
The speakers also distanced themselves from calls for early regional polls in the North and South, saying these will be done at the same convention when Chakwera’s term expires.