29 April 2017

Malawi: MCP Secretary General Kaliwo Calls for Emergency Convention - Plans to Oust Chakwera

Photo: Nyasa Times
Malawi Congress Party President Lazarous Chakwera.

A plan to oust under-fire Malawi Congress Party (MCP) president, Lazarus Chakwera is swiftly coming into fruition as a grouping of party rebels led by Secretary General, Gustav Kaliwo have called for an emergency convention slated for July this year.

Kaliwo on Saturday told the media in Blantyre in a news conference that due to growing concerns by party chairpersons across the country and with the backing of the party's constitution, it was necessary to call for the convention set for July 7th to July 9th at yet to be disclosed venue to resolve the internal squabbles that have plunged the party into chaotic state.

"I have had meetings with almost 23 committees from various districts across the country who requested me to call for a convention. Time is running out, as Malawi Congress Party we need to put our house in order if we are to have any chance in 2019. Therefore, I am today announcing a convention will take place on Friday 7th July to Sunday 9th July," said Kaliwo to the jubilation of party chairpersons who attended the briefing.

"Delegates to the convention are those who attended the August 2013 convention. If anyone questions my authority, they should know I have been authorized by the Malawi Congress Party constitution to call for the convention," he said.

According to Article 40 of the MCP constitution, an emergency convention can only be called if the party's national executive committee resolves by two thirds of its membership, or at the request of half of the number of the district committees.

Kaliwo franked by his deputy Chatonda Kaunda challenged that he has a backing of more than half of the party's district committees to call for the convention and his move has a blessing of some of the executive committee members.

"There might be some people in the executive committee who support me on this and others might have different opinion."

Kaliwo accused Chakwera of snubbing his calls for a face to face meeting to resolve some of the issues have been making rounds in the media about the party's leadership.

He argued his efforts to resolve the raised concerns by party supporters through their respective chairpersons hit a blank wall following Chakwera's refusal to meet him.

Kaliwo then challenged that his decision is final and those who feel aggrieved should, instead of seeking legal remedy, engage in public debate on the legality of his call for the convention.

"The convention is the highest authority of the party. Some people might find this unacceptable, they are entitled to their opinion but the party belongs to these people (district chairpersons). Let us not destroy the party. We can disagree but let's not be disagreeable.

"My decision is final unless the court of law decides otherwise. I am ready to comply with any decision courts may make. I have complied with MCP constitution. Those who feel I don't have legitimacy to call for convention should not waste party resources going to court; lets have a public debate on this," he added.

Asked about funds for the convention and if it is going to make leadership change, Kaliwo said the agenda for the convention would be decided by the party and that he has only following demands by the district committees.

MCP deputy Secretary General, Eisenhower Mkaka refused to comment on Kaliwo's calls, asking for more time to analyze the constitution.

According to Article 38 (1) of the constitution, the convention being the highest authority of the party may remove the president, deputy president, or a member of national executive committee from office before the lapse of the period of which he or she was elected if he or she willfully and persistently disobeys the constitution.

MCP has been hit by a political whirlwind and cracks of division are now visible in the country's oldest party with Chakwera being accused of corruption and lack of leadership.

Chakwera has been in the media accused of funds abuse, corruption and dictatorship.

The rebelling group accuses Chakwera of practicing tyrannical leadership which they regard as a threat to the country's democracy once if he is elected as Malawi President.

They also cited diversion of party funds into his personal accounts as another ground aside from accusations of soliciting money from renowned business tycoons in return for positions and favours once the party gets into government.

The district chairpersons who attended the press briefing on Saturday hail from the districts of Nsanje, Kasungu, Zomba, Mchinji, Chiradzulu, Blantyre, Dedza, Mwanza, Salima, Machinga and NkhataBay.

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