Malawi watchdogs give ruling People’s Party tips for convention

Malawi’s two prominent human rights groups have  advised the governing  People’s Party (PP) to hold its first ever national convention on August  27  in a democratic manner and avoid making the event a charade.

The Centre for Human Rights and Rehabilitation (CHRR) boss Undule Mwakasungula and Centre for Development of the People (CEDEP) head  Gift Trapence said in a statement made available to Nyasa Times that  the PP convection will not only provide a chance to the rank and file of the party to exercise their democratic right of electing leaders of their choice but it is also a “great manifestation of maturity in intra party democracy in the PP.”

Reads the statement: “We at CHRR and CEDEP are optimistic that the Peoples Party convention will avail an opportune time for its members to elect party leaders without fear, favour or any intimidation. “

The  rights groups said they hope the PP convention will not be used as a rubber stamp to put in position people that members do  not want.

Undule: Intra party democracy

They noted  that other political party conventions that have come before have unfortunately been marred by some irregularities ranging from intimidation of aspiring candidates and violence.

“We therefore call upon the Peoples Party Convention organising committee to see to it that an enabling environment has been created for all aspiring party leaders to compete.”

The rights campaigner also asked for “ a level playing field”  for all that are aspiring to hold positions in the party “to compete fairly and squarely .”

CHRR and CEDEP  pointed out that the PP convention “presents a very opportune springboard to catapult it into greater height only if it will be conducted in a professional, free and fair way. It will legitimise leadership of the party.”

The statement adds: “The PP cannot afford to miss this opportunity as Malawians will be waiting to see how democratic the Convention will be conducted and it is our hope that PP will meet and create that democratic space.”

The groups said intra party democracy is a pre requisite and a yardstick for any political party to respect, protect and upholding democratic values and principles once given the mantle to run the country.

The convention  therefore provides that PP with “ golden opportunity” to prove to Malawians that it can be trusted with power and can be given further mandate when the country  go to the polls in 2014.

The watchdogs  also asked other political parties in Malawi to emulate the PP and call upon Conventions in their respective political parties as they prepare for the 2014 General Elections.

“Time to be governed by appointed leaders is far gone. We need democratically elected leaders through at both party and national levels,” the statement said.

The PP convention is set to select  President Joyce Banda as the party presidential candidate in 2014.

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