Rebellion brews in MCP over its resolution to bar new comers from contesting at the convention

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Rebellion brews in MCP over its resolution to bar new comers from contesting at the convention
Rebellion brews in MCP over its resolution to bar new comers from contesting at the convention

Africa-Press – Malawi. Rebellion has erupted in Malawi Congress Party (MCP) as some frustrated members have risen up against the party’s national executive committee’s (NEC) resolution that disqualifies them from vying for positions at the August 10-12 elective convention.

The challengers, one of whom said he has formally written the party to protest the NEC resolution that bans those who have served the party for less than two years from contesting at the convention, are currently consulting lawyers who have purportedly seen merit in their claim.

The lawyers agree that Article 35 of the MCP constitution grants the NEC powers to approve rules and regulations for the conduct of elections to the NEC.

The lawyers further note that Article 63 (1) of the same document provides that the convention has powers to nullify, alter or vary any rules and regulations or any part thereof.

A concerned member, Eddie Banda, who is eyeing the position of second deputy director of Social Welfare, in an interview yesterday said he has written MCP secretary general (SG) Eisenhower Mkaka seeking clarity on the decision to change rules.

Reads his letter: “While Article 35 (2) of the MCP constitution empowers the national executive committee to establish rules and regulations for conducting elections, there remains ambiguity regarding the extent of these powers.

A careful examination of this provision suggests that the NEC’s authority under this article is confined to operational election matters, rather than the formulation of eligibility criteria.”

Banda argued that it is important that eligibility criteria be explicitly outlined in the MCP constitution to ensure consistency and predictability. He, thus, urged the party to engage an independent lawyer to interpret this provision through an impartial analysis.

In the 10-paged letter, he also argued that the party’s former president Hastings Kamuzu Banda, current leader Lazarus Chakwera and former SG Chris Daza all assumed their positions without holding a party post before.

MCP spokesperson Ezekiel Ching’oma in an interview yesterday said the party has clear procedures for handling such complaints are handled.

He said: “He [Banda] needs to lodge the query at area level and if agreed, elevate it to constituency then district, and regional level which if satisfied can take that to the NEC.

“We have a steering committee which is putting up the eligibility criteria on a delegated duty by the NEC and will make that public in due course. So, let’s see what comes out.”

In an interview yesterday, University of Malawi law professor Garton Kamchezera maintained that the NEC was acting within the law, but hastened to add that the decision can be challenged at the convention based on Article 63.

He said: “This means they can make the regulations and the convention can nullify that. So it’s up to them to petition the convention to nullify or vary them. Having written the SG, I think let them use internal resolution mechanisms to sort this out.”

Earlier, private practice lawyer Gladson Majekete said it would be unfortunate if the NEC’s resolution will not undergo the scrutiny of the convention before it becomes effective.

He said in an interview: “Sometimes these leaders abuse their discretion. They think they are NEC and can do whatever they want. They forget that they work within limits and the limit is their same constitution.

“For a matter as crucial as this one, I would rather leave it to their convention to decide how to qualify the newcomers.”

One of the MCP veterans, Joseph Njobvuyalema, said while the regulations are new, the NEC was not in the wrong but that it needs to present the resolutions at the convention for a final decision.

MCP Nkhata Bay district chairperson Manasse Chiumia and his Mwanza counterpart James Kasamwe said they are against the resolution while Machinga district chairperson Wiski Nonyera said he supported it.

MCP insiders said the resolution will likely affect former deputy Speaker of Parliament Esther Mcheka Chilenje, Uladi Mussa and Brown James Mpinganjira, all formerly of the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) and Engineer Vitumbiko Mumba.

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