Judge Charles Mkandawire of the High Court of Malawi has dismissed the unnecessarily protracted dispute among Alliance for Democracy (AFORD) officials who were tussling over the party’s convention, saying the issue is petty and could have been handled by the officials themselves.
The ruling, which is against AFORD Secretary General Christopher Ritchie and executive member Dan Msowoya, likely paves the way for the smooth holding of the AFORD convention slated for 28 and 29 April in Lilongwe.
Ritchie and Msowoya wanted, among other things, the convention to be held on 7th April and Ritchie reinstated as Chairman of the organizing team constituted by the National Executive Committee (NEC) on 18 September 2017 in Lilongwe.
The two also wanted Revamp AFORD Movement (RAMO) to be involved in the organizing of the convention as an observer.
Apparently, another NEC meeting held on 27 December 2017 in Lilongwe dissolved Ritchie’s committee and appointed a new one chaired by AFORD Second Deputy President Tanilani Chipeta to organize the April 28 indaba.
“I find it problematic for this court to reinstate a committee which had no confidence of NEC. If the majority have lost trust in a particular committee as was the case here, it is advisable for the court to trade with care before it can make a decision reversing the decision of its constituents especially where it is based on a factual situation as is the case here,” reads part of Judge Mkandawire’s eight paged ruling.
On participation of RAMO in the organizing of the convention, this is what the Judge said, “The constitution of AFORD does not provide for that. Moreover, RAMO is just an affiliate of AFORD and for it to start demanding that it has to sit in during the meetings of the convention organizing committee is rather farfetched. After all, as an affiliate RAMO will of course be on the delegation list to the national conference of the party pursuant to section 7.5 (7) of the constitution”.
Judge Mkandawire disputed the demand that the convention ought to be held on 7 April, saying this was not practical as the ruling of the case was being done on the 9th of April.
“Moreover, it is clearer than before that the dates for the AFORD convention as assured by the Second Deputy President Mr Tanilani Chipeta are now 28 and 29 April. From what I gathered during the hearing of this case, much of the ground work has already been done by the organizing committee. The court would not want to disturb that process with other dates, ” concluded Judge Mkandawire.
Ritchie and Msowoya were not immediately available for comment.
But AFORD Publicity Secretary Khumbo Mwaungulu and Chipeta expressed their happiness over the ruling, saying it vindicates their stance that “some of these people” are just confusionists in the party.
This is not the first time AFORD officials have been in a wrangle.
When the party’s founder and multiparty freedom fighter Chakufwa Thom Chihana died in 2006, AFORD officials were embroiled in a long fierce fight over the leadership of the party.
Late Dindi Gowa Nyasulu later took over the party at a disputed convention held in Lilongwe in 2007.
Then, Enoch Chihana who is Thom’s son came in, emerging as the party’s leader at another controversial convention held in Mzuzu in 2013.
Even when Chihana senior, popularly known as simbi ya moto (hot iron), was still alive, internal bickering had already been simmering in AFORD, leading to the party’s downfall.
A party that had over thirty Members of Parliament (MPs) at the dawn of multiparty politics found itself with only six legislators at the time Thom Chakufwa Chihana died.
The party won only one seat in the National Assembly in 2009 and 2014 elections.
As the next convention draws closer, the battle for the party’s presidency is largely between Enoch and Frank Mwenifumbo, one of the earliest AFORD Law Makers who later became a cabinet minister in the late Bingu wa Mutharika regime.Follow and Subscribe Nyasa TV :