A heated power struggle has seen members of Alliance for Democracy (Aford) electing two presidents—parliamentarians Frank Mwenifumbo (Karonga Central) and Enoch Chihana (Rumphi Central).
So bad was the situation that Mwenifumbo’s camp on Tuesday night defied Chihana’s use of presidential powers to suspend the party convention in Lilongwe after squabbles prevented members from electing their leaders.
The Mwenifumbo camp later met in the wee hours of Wednesday where the host was elected president of Aford along with some executive committee members.
But by late afternoon on Wednesday, after the Mwenifumbo supporters had left for their homes, Chihana opened the convention where he was re-elected president of the party.
He announced that the newly-elected national executive committee had expelled Mwenifumbo and four others for not following the party procedures.
The expulsion came in the face of arguments by Mwenifumbo and others who had been elected hours earlier that their side of the party was the legitimate one.
Meanwhile, Mwenifumbo quashed the decision to expel him and his colleagues, arguing he cannot be expelled by an illegitimate leader, Chihana.
“It is a mockery for someone who is not even a leader to say he has expelled me. If at all there is one person who needs to be expelled, it is Chihana himself for holding a convention with parallel structures,” he added.
In an interview after his re-election, Chihana said the indaba that elected him was a real convention because as a president, he declared vacant all the positions and competed with others to regain his position.
“We failed to hold the convention yesterday [Tuesday] because of the misunderstandings that were there. Whatever happened after that cancellation is outside the party.
“Their elections [in the Mwenifumbo camp] were illegitimate, and so this is the convention we have done today. It is legitimate and this party is the one with the party seal and original certificates,” he said.
However, analysts have said it is high time the party put its house in order because what is happening clearly shows that there are two parties with the name Aford.
Political commentator Henry Chingaipe lamented that Malawi’s politics stifles intra-party politics.
He predicted that other parties are likely to exhibit serious infighting during their conventions ahead of next year’s polls.
“I foresee similar situations in other parties, looking at it that Aford is the first party to hold its convention prior to 2019. But, nonetheless, Aford needs to make sure that they follow their constitution, otherwise verbal war will not end and there will be numerous court appearances,” he said. n