Amid the secrecy on the agreement between President Lazarus Chakwera and Vice-President Saulos Chilima, a senior MCP official has sparked controversy by insisting that Chakwera will contest in 2025.
During campaign ahead of the June 23 2020 Fresh Presidential Election, Chilima is on record as having said thatthe presidency will rotate between the Tonse Alliance major partners, Malawi Congress Party (MCP) and UTM Party.
But speaking on Friday in Chirimba in Blantyre during Kamuzu Day commemorations, MCP campaign director Moses Kunkuyu said the country’s Constitution and that of MCP allow Chakwera to seek another term in 2025.
In an interview, he said the statement was not in anyway speaking to any signed agreement, but that he spoke as an individual who has had time to read both MCP’s constitution and the Republican Constitution.
Said Kunkuyu: “These facts will remain since they are inscribed in the two constitutions, but no statement can stop people from forming alliances or working relationships today or in the future.
“To put matters straight, I talked about the Constitution and that it does allow him [Chakwera] to stand and people are free to make their wishes with a clear picture of what the Constitution says.
“If asked again as was the case that day, I will say it again that yes the constitution of the party and that of the country do allow him to stand for another five-year term. If that is making someone a dictator, then it’s the Constitution that makes dictators by allowing them to stand for two terms.”
Kunkuyu, who once formed the Transformation Alliance after being fired from the erstwhile governing Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) and later joined MCP, said his remarks will not stop Chakwera and MCP from entering into any electoral arrangement.
He added: “As for politics and elections, let the future elections time define what happens then, but any citizen is free to contest for the presidency as long as the law permits. That said, citizens are at liberty to make wishes. People should read the Constitution more than they read statements made by individuals.
“One thing that has repeatedly come out clearly from the [Tonse] Alliance partners is that all the parties in the alliance shall maintain their autonomy. As such, all parties shall obviously revere their leaders in different fashions, but when we are talking about State business,then we also have laws that define the protocol that applies.”
But UTM Party spokesperson Frank Mwenifumbo has urged MCP to concentrate on helping the two leaders to develop the country instead of focusing on politics.
He said: “The utterances by Kunkuyu, he is free to express his opinion but whether that has a bearing on us, no it hasn’t. I just want to remind you that Dr Chilima has always appealed to Malawians to disengage from a campaign mode. We have just come from a campaign where too many promises were made and have to be fulfilled.
“We cannot make any comments on events that will take place in 2025. If anything, we are occupied with creating a very conducive environment for Dr Chakwera to implement and deliver what was promised. Matters of elections are not a priority now for UTM Party.”
Mwenifumbo also called on Tonse Alliance partners toembrace mindset change, saying the country is lagging behind on development because people have always focused on politics rather than looking at the development of the country.
He added: “In his lecture, DrChilima stressed on mindset change. We need to change the way we think, look at things that can help the country. We need to appeal to people that they have to work very hard.
“Dr Chakwera has made it very clear to us that he doesn’t want to rule as a dictator, and he has said it is not the two of them who can deliver on the promises. So, we need, all of us, to have a collective wish to deliver. The President can’t deliver on his own, we need to work together to help that, not concentrating on politics.”
Meanwhile, a political and administrative studies lecturer at the University of Malawi, Happy Kayuni,has said the confusion is arising as a result of failure by Chakwera and Chilima to orient their stewards on the deal they signed.
He said all structures within the Tonse Alliance are confused on what message to send to the grass roots and have now resorted to championing the causes of individual parties ahead of the 2025 elections.
“They should have been told not to comment on such matters, but they don’t know what was agreed. Anybody can say what they want. If they thought certain clauses are so sensitive, then they should have told their followers on what they should be saying in order to ensure that the alliance is guaranteed.
“We have seen the confusion during campaign rallies for by-elections. What is happening is affecting the politics at grass roots level because supporters are getting confused on what to believe. The leadership, including people like Kunkuyu, should have addressed this earlier on,” said Kayuni.
On his part, political analyst George Phiri said the alliance was temporary and he does not see it surviving up to 2025.
“It is possible that the two leaders agreed on certain things, but they are being affected by changes happening with time. With the blunders that Chakwera is making, where he promises one thing and does the other, it is very wrong to start giving people what to expect in 2025.
“Already, such declarations are giving other leaders within the Tonse and outside chance to explore what next to do in 2025. It is also time for development, not politics,” he said.
Speaking earlier, political commentator Humphreys Mvula said the rifts in the Tonse Alliance are a result of poor inter-alliance dialogue and the absence of a clear definition of the alliance.
The Tonse Alliance, led by Chakwera and Chilima, dislodged the DPP in the June 23 2020 Fresh Presidential Election.