On August 11, 2013, Dr. Lazarus McCarthy Chakwera was elected leader of the main opposition Malawi Congress Party (MCP) at the party’s National Convention held at the Natural Resources College (NRC) in Lilongwe. It is exactly three years now since the former clergyman became the MCP president to replace the long time Machiavellian Leader of Opposition John Zenus Ungapake Tembo.
He was the party’s presidential candidate in the May 20, 2014 tripartite elections where he came second, behind the incumbent Head of State, Arthur Peter Mutharika of the governing Democratic Progressive Party (DPP).
Dr. Chakwera, however, found some solace when he won a parliamentary seat to represent his Lilongwe North-west constituency. He became the Leader of Opposition owing to MCP’s status as the second largest party in Parliament.
There have now emerged some critical voices against Chakwera with a splinter group led by flamboyant businesswoman, Chatinkha Chidzanja Nkhoma.
They are calling for Chakwera’s resignation, accusing him of lacking prerequisite leadership attributes to steer the party forward, nepotism and intolerance.
Both the mainstream and social have lately been awash with stories of political bickering and squabbling within the MCP and a permanent solution does not seem to come anytime soon.
With due respect to both warring sides and their respective opinions regarding the future of the MCP, I dare say the manner in which the ‘bickering’ and ‘squabbling’ are being done is shameful, to say the least.
The MCP is arguably the most firmly structured political party in Malawi. The MCP is credited for leading Malawi to political independence in 1964. Yes, the MCP has a functioning party constitution, which has been used before to make various major decisions affecting the party, including the election and removal of its leaders.
But the MCP is also not a stranger to unfortunate intra-party squabbling like what we are seeing today. The MCP, like many other political organizations in Malawi and abroad, are not immune to disagreements.
In such instances, what is important is how parties are able to successfully deal with infighting to ensure that they maintain the good image of the organization.
To cut a long story short, as a party that has survived decades of ups and downs, the MCP must be better placed to deal with internal differences in a more mature and amicable manner than the current wave of public denigration between the warring sides.
It is unthinkable that after merely three years, when Chakwera got an overwhelming nod from the MCP’s highest decision-making machinery, the National Convention, to lead the party in the post-Kamuzu Banda and JZU era, the same party would turn around and challenge him in this manner without any recourse to the internal conflict resolution mechanisms or, indeed, the party constitution.
It is unfortunate that the public ‘dirty-linen washing’ that has characterized the MCP over the few months has given rise to rumours of external forces interfering in the internal politics of the MCP in order to destabilize the opposition movement in Malawi. It is called divide-and-rule. The MCP has been thrown into disrepute and it’s now becoming a laughing stock.
Without giving credence to such rumour-mongering, I still dare say that if such tactics indeed exist to destabilize other parties in order to perpetuate some unpopular regime, the perpetrators have no business doing politics in multiparty Malawi.
It is becoming increasingly clear that some of the suspected perpetrators of the infighting in the MCP have upped their act to plant seeds of divisions in that party. Using the social and public media, these ill-minded people are clearly siding with the agents of disunity in the MCP, shamefully.
It is still imperative both warring sides in the MCP must quickly work out a permanent solution to their purported differences before the party is destabilized further by enemies of democracy. As a political party, the MCP cannot afford to keep within its fold members that are pursuing other political parties’ interests. That would be utter suicide.
Some will argue that silence is the greatest threat to intra-party democracy and Dr. Chakwera must not abhor any public denunciation in as far as his alleged bad policies are concerned. True that; but washing dirty linen in public regarding your internal political party matters is even more dangerous. It disenfranchises the very fabric that holds the party, the grassroots supporters.
“A successful political party requires three things: strong values, a clear identity and policies that people regard as relevant and workable. The leader needs to embody those things.” – Lord MandelsonFollow and Subscribe Nyasa TV :