The National Executive Committee meeting of the oldest political party in the land, Malawi Congress Party (MCP) has come and gone. The indaba should have signalled the end of strife and the start of rebuilding the party whose cracks were widening by the day even though the suspension—without hearing of publicity secretary Jessie Kabwila and longtime party member Joseph Njobvuyalema—smacked of a party intolerant of criticism and without disregard for rules of natural justice.
MCP has some brilliant minds in its leadership, therefore, it baffles the mind that 22 years after multiparty it continues to behave like briefcase political parties that have come and disappeared like smoke.
The physical attack on an official who was tasked to serve some documents on the party president Lazarus Chakwera as a defendant in the case in which some district chairpersons have dragged the party to court just shows that the party has not changed.
A Pentecostal reverend being the face of the party does not mean the leopard has changed its stripes. But instead, the status of the secretary general Gustav Kaliwo remains unknown and Chakwera brushed aside questions about him like he was vermin.
If a whole secretary general can author such a strongly worded letter to his president and in such a public domain, it is clear that something is rotten in the opposition. Kaliwo, who was not elected at the 2013 convention, views the district elections being held currently as a purge of dissenting views than a strategy to strengthen party structures.
Kaliwo is no ordinary man. He is so extraordinary that his incorporation into the MCP NEC at the time sounded ludicrous. It is a wonder he has stayed within the party ranks for as long as he has done.
The former Anti-Corruption Bureau (ACB) director has spoken and it is in MCP’s best interest to take heed.
Sure, his proposal that the party should hold a convention might not hold water but the rest of his recommendations are clear and easy to implement.
That the decision to suspend the likes of Kabwila and Njobvuyalema was an illegal move is a fact and that the party should have called for a meeting of NEC to ratify the new positions of August 2015, is also a fact.
On the dismissals, Chakwera and the remaining members of his NEC had trouble defending the fact that its members were suspended without hearing but were indicted on mere hearsay.
As the 30 days given to the disciplinary committee comes to an end on September 30, it is everyone’s hope that it will be impartial and objective.
Kaliwo has become a shrewd politician, his absence at the NEC was a calculated move to show the party president that all was not well.
The SG has spewed truths that some members within the MCP might see as mere sour grapes but that will be the worst mistake the party could make.
The longer the party dilly dallies in responding to the letter, the more ordinary Malawians will take the current leadership for what it is turning out to be: intolerant and undemocratic.
Kaliwo’s letter should not be taken lightly by MCP leadership or by Malawian voters come 2019. If MCP does not put its house in order now and in the next three years, we should forget this party ever coming back into power. n