Chakwera’s MCP fundraising venture draws mixed reactions

In a sudden turn of events, the recently elected president for the Malawi Congress Party (MCP) Dr. Lazarus Chakwera has asked its supporters to contribute Mk100.00 each to the operations of the party as it prepares to contest in the 2014 General Elections which has attracted mixed views.

The MCP under Kamuzu  Banda had made similar overtures in the 1960’s, where the late Ngwazi also asked people to contribute to the running of the party. The system became infamous and a symbol of oppression and a source of inspiration for those that advocated for multiparty politics in the late 1980’s.

The Nyasa Times reporters sought the views from Malawians on the appeal coming from the newly elected MCP leader asking party supporters to contribute to the coffers of the party in preparation for the  tripartite elections in 2014.

James Mphande a teacher at a school in Mzuzu said: “Dr. Chakwera would like to bring back the MCP of the 1960’s where the late Kamuzu asked Malawians to contribute to the running of the party and the system developed to be calculated method of extortion where Malawians were forced to give gifts and expectant women bought party cards even for unborn babies”.

Chakwera:  Asks MCP supporters to fund campaign
Chakwera: Asks MCP supporters to fund campaign

“Why does Chakwera want to start, by introducing issues that made MCP bad? Today its MK100.00, tomorrow it will be our goats, cows and everything else. We have sad memories about donations under MCP,” exclaimed Levison Mzembe of Chibavi Township who went on to condemn the initiative as coming at the wrong time of the transition of MCP.

“We thought Chakwera wanted to be president of MCP because he had accumulated enough money, and now that he wanted to give something to MCP?” exclaimed Damison Tsonga a vendor plying his business in Lilongwe market.

“Most ardent followers of MCP also expressed surprise that the former cleric would want to introduce contributions from supporters at a wrong time, with only 8 months to go before the general elections in 2014. This will portray the party as poor. A leader should be careful to avoid giving a negative impression about this oldest party. People will not support a poor party,” said one long serving MP from a rural constituency who opted for anonymity fearing reprisal from the new president.

Some leaders from the  activists who Nyasa Times talked to have described the move as a blunder by the new leader and further confirming that MCP cannot change just because of a new  presidentr and youthful Secretary General.

“The MCP will never advance from being a party of death and darkness just because there is a new leader at the helm of the party. MCP leaders, rank and file including Dr. Chakwera, are still stuck in the olden days of politics. To be asking for donations from its supporters in this day and age smacks of rekindling the one party state syndrome.

“Why join politics when you have no money? We thought the new leader had a lot of money. John Tembo was better because he never asked us to contribute. Where shall we get the money?” complained Mr. Timeo a vendor at Msudwe trading center.

These views were views representatives of so many other respondents that the Nyasa Times reporter talked to, signalling serious dislike of the idea.

However other respondents particularly academicians and the well to do supporters of the MCP, supported the idea as an attempt to promote ownership of the MCP by its supporters.

“It is a good idea, except that, the President should have sought the views of its supporters at the convention rather than introducing the idea as a one man idea,” said a former MCP die hard presently running a security company in Blantyre.

Among other things, MCP is asking well-wishers to contribute funds for procurement and distribution of campaign materials, compensating MCP monitors and observers during the election, meeting campaign rallies expenditures and payment of costs for primary elections.

MCP’s call for funding from its followers may evoke memories of membership cards that earned the party notoriety during its three decades at the helm of government.

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