With just about 24 months before the country holds its general elections in May 2019, political enthusiasm primarily from presidential aspirants is yet to surface in major political parties’ set-ups.
While some political parties say it is a bit early to begin discussing the issue, a political scientist feels lack of vigilance among the members could be one of the factors contributing to the delayed excitement.
The scenario this time is unlike in the run-up to previous general elections when political buzz overwhelmed the nation way before parties started holding their respective conventions.
Mustapha Hussein, a political scientist at Chancellor College, a constituent college of the University of Malawi (Unima), said in an interview yesterday that there could be several factors for this.
He said: “It could be the issue of resources coming into play, lack of vigilance on the part of the members wanting to compete for such positions or indeed some parties could be overwhelmed by the founder’s syndrome.”
Commenting on the holding of party conventions, Hussein said they play a vital role in contributing to intra party democracy and lack of it or delaying to conduct amounts to retrogression to democracy.
Three of the five political parties represented in Parliament—Malawi Congress Party (MCP), People’s Party (PP) and United Democratic Front (UDF)—said yesterday they were yet to discuss and plan for their conventions as the mandate for those holding various positions is still intact.
Except for UDF, whose constitution stipulates that its elected leaders will hold office for six years, MCP, Democratic Progress Party (DPP) and PP are supposed to hold their conventions after five years.
MCP deputy secretary general Eisenhower Mkaka said in an interview it was too early to start discussing the issue now because the party is scheduled to hold its convention next year.
He said: “Our party’s constitution stipulates that we have a convention every five years and if we go by its dictates, the next convention will be in 2018. So, to start talking about it now will be a bit too early.”
PP spokesperson Noah Chimpeni and his UDF counterpart Ken Ndanga said their parties’ national executive committees have not discussed the issue yet and will advise the nation once that is done.
Said Chimpeni: “When we meet as national executive we will decide and give the nation something concrete in as far as the dates is concerned.”
But most key positions of the major parties are filled with appointments after the elected holders either resigned or were removed by the parties’ leaders.
In PP, key positions, including president, vice-presidents, secretary general, treasurer and publicity secretary have all been replaced by appointed leaders.
However, the parties observed that conventions were relevant as they are a requisite of democracy.
Said Chimpeni: “But we can’t be calling for conventions each time there are vacancies in the national executive committee as our constitution mandates our leader to make some appointments whenever necessary. Again it is not easy financially for any political party to hold a convention.”
DPP and Alliance for Democracy (Aford) officials were not immediately available for comment.