Kwacha! Malawi Congress Party leadership contest creates a buzz

MCP supporters at a rally in Lilongwe: The party gaining momentum once again
MCP supporters at a rally in Lilongwe: The party gaining momentum once again

The race for the Malawi Congress Party (MCP) presidency which has so far attracted prominent citizens has excited supporters of the party and political commentators.

Most people Nyasa Times spoke to welcomed the growing list of “runner and riders” for the presidency.

Human rights activist Billy Mayaya said MCP has an opportunity to build itself into a force to reckon with by following democratic values at its convention/

“It is heartening to note that the party is beginning to open up to democratic values and principles,” Mayaya told Nyasa Times.

“The expectation is that the convention will be an open and democratic process that supports these values and principles and not simply a way of masking a predetermined outcome. If there is transparency and accountability, then the future of the party as a force to reckon with not only in the 2014 elections but beyond that and additionally Malawi’s democracy will be the better for it,” Mayaya pointed out.

University of Malawi  political scientist Blessings Chinsinga also observed that the current leadership scramble in MCP was a sign that Malawians have lost confidence in new political parties that emerged following the coming of multiparty democracy in 1993.

“This is a matter of going back home. People feel that time has come for MCP to go back to power looking at the developments in the country [that] are based on the same foundations laid by the MCP government,” Chinsinga is quoted saying.

Chinsinga also said the current aspirants are being moved by the fact that they know that current MCP president John Tembo has lost grip of the party.

Supporters of MCP were also expressing excitement with the contestants

“MCP yagwila mseu (MCP has gained ground). I have always been MCP supporter but because the party was not attracting new faces, I have been associating myself with the ruling party of the day but now it’s back to MCP,” said Mac Petery Mkwambisi in Lilongwe.

By Monday there were seven contestants expected to run for MCP presidency. They include Chief Justice Lovemore Munlo, who announced his early retirement from the judiciary on Friday.

Munlo presented his nomination letters for the party’s hot seat on Monday.

“I am one of the senior citizens in this country and we are talking of our country, we are talking about the future of our country. We, therefore, have to give people choices, we have to give hope to the people that everything is not lost and they are people who are ready to serve,” he said.

“I am a democrat and least worried with the list (of the contenders), the decision is for the convention and the convention is better off with such a wider choice,” said the former Chief Justice.

According to MCP Administrative Secretary Potiphar Chidaya, apart from Munlo, the party leadership contenders include Assemblies of God President Reverend Dr Lazarus Chakwera and Jodder Kanjere, the party’s former Political Affairs Director Eston Kankhome who also submitted his papers.

Other probable candidates during the party’s convention to be held on April 27 include the current party president John Tembo, secretary general Chris Daza and Nkhotakota Central Member of Parliament (MP) Edwin Banda. These three are, however, yet to present their nomination papers.

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