A local social-political commentator has advised the president of Malawi Congress Party (MCP) Dr. Lazarus Chakwera to seriously consider engaging his party’s Vice President Richard Msowoya on matters relating to 2019 candidature, arguing that the recent developments relating to the joining of Sidik Mia and also Msowoya’s recent public pronouncements in Mzimba if not handled well have the potential to divide the country’s oldest party and main opposition.
Speaking to Nyasa Times, analyst Mankhumbo Munthali, who is also the National Secretary of the Ethics, Peace and Justice Commission (EPJC) of Evangelical Association of Malawi, said if the Msowoya-Mia saga is not handled maturely it has the potential to divide MCP a scenario that may prove suicidal in the 2019 elections.
“It is an open secret that both Sidik Mia and Richard Msowoya have not hidden their aspirations to be Chakwera’s number two in the forthcoming elections. And in fact as a matter of a democratic principle there is nothing wrong for either of them to aspire for such a position. This is good for intra-party democracy. However, the recent developments relating to these two aspirants with the latest being the public pronouncements made during the Mzimba rally by Msowoya franked by Jesse Kabwira and Gustav Kaliwo seem to suggest that the issue if not handled maturely and the urgency it deserves has the potential to divide the party a scenario that may prove suicidal for the party in 2019 elections,” said Munthali.
According to Munthali, the best option for now is for MCP leader Chakwera to engage his deputy on the matter as a matter of urgency rather than avoiding each other as observed in the recent public rallies.
“I think it is important for the MCP leader Dr. Lazarus Chakwera to constructively engage with his party’s Vice president Msowoya on the matter as soon as possible [prior to the party’s next convention] in the best interest of the party.
“In fact, this is not the first time we have seen this scenario in Malawi. Prior to 2009 elections Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) presidential candidate Bingu wa Mutharika when faced with a dilemma to choose from Chimunthu Banda, Goodwell Gondwe, Joyce Banda, and Khumbo Kachali used contact and dialogue with the big four to convince them about his intentions to pick Joyce Banda – a decision he thought was in the best interest of the prospects of the party in the election. This tactic worked as Chimunthu, Goodwell and Kachali despite being left out, supported fully the candidature of Bingu and Banda.
“So instead of avoiding each other, Chakwera can borrow a leaf from Bingu, and initiate such a dialogue not only with Msowoya but also with all aspiring runningmates in the party including Mia and also all party heavyweights prior to the next convention,” advised Munthali.
Munthali also cautioned MCP against rushing into conclusions that Msowoya’s harbouring of runningmate ambitions might be influenced by the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) as a way of dividing the MCP.
“By virtue of being its fierce political rival, DPP has and will always have interest in what happens in Malawi Congress Party. This is not strange in politics, as it also happens elsewhere in the world. While not completely downplaying the DPP factor in the whole saga based on some precedence in our political history, I am of the view that this may largely have nothing to do with DPP’s interference but rather a mere expression of Msowoya’s personal ambition to the running mate of Chakwera.
“While DPP may be the main beneficiary of the whole circus especially when it results in dividing MCP, Msowoya by virtue of being the Vice president of the party and also Chakwera’s running-mate in the previous election already gives him the confidence to aspire for such, and you cannot blame him, just like Mia, for exercising such a democratic right.”
Adds Munthali: “Besides, while Msowoya mixing with MCP’s so-called rebels, Kabwila and Kaliwo at the recent Mzimba rally may one hand seem to be an indication that he has been part and parcel of the so-called ‘rebel group’ to bring down Chakwera’s leadership, I think on the other hand the two [Kabwila and Kaliwo] might have only taken advantage of the current Mia-Msowoya’s saga by using the situation as a critical juncture to justify their recently commonly held position that Chakwera is undemocratic.
“This is further reinforced by the fact that Msowoya has never publicly said he would challenge Chakwera at the next convention as the Presidential candidate but rather wants to be retained as a running-mate in the next election. In other words, the point I am driving here is that instead of merely concluding that the issue is DPP-driven, Chakwera as the leader of the party must rise up and engage with his deputy and others.”
Munthali, pointed out that the recent development is a great test to his leadership style if Malawians are to really take him seriously in the next election.
And in an editorial comment in the leading daily newspaper, The Nation, the paper urges MCP to resolve the bickering over the convention once and for all by speaking with one voice.
“It is important that MCP clears all the cobwebs if the party is to be taken seriously by the electorate,” the paper said in the comment.
It noted that the infighting is not doing MCP and the country’s democracy any good.Follow and Subscribe Nyasa TV :