MCP divided over barring candidates Chakwera, Munlo

Divisions have rocked opposition Malawi Congress Party (MCP) over a decision to shortlist the candidate’s eligible to run for the party’s presidency and other executive posts at the party’s convention slated for August 9 to 11 in Lilongwe.

A two-day National Executive Committee (NEC) meeting held at the MCP current president John Tembo’s Area 10 posh residence in Lilongwe made resolution to only approve aspirants with “good and sound” education background who have not served any other political party in Malawi and have no criminal record for the past seven years.

According to MCP director of elections Joseph Njobvuyalema, the resolution was arrived at through a vote where out of the 25 executive members present only 7 voted against the criteria while 18 voted in favor of the 5 year requirement.

But sources said the matter was not conclusively decided as they mandated Tembo to consult with party officials on the matter.

Njobvuyalema: We have kept the party and passes the checklist
Njobvuyalema: We have kept the party and passes the checklist

The atmosphere, according to Nyasa Times source, was charged and members had to pump sense into the Njobvuyalema faction that as NEC members “they are not owners of the party – but mere representatives.”

All names of aspirants will be scrutinized before a final list is taken before the convention.  Any company sets some qualifications for people seeking employment.”

By interpretation to the resolutions, it means out of 12 aspirants who have submitted nomination papers for MCP presidency, only six will qualify to contest.

Those that will tick the boxes in the checklists include Njobvuyalema, who is party MP for Lilongwe Mapuyu south and, Watson Makala Ngozo (Lilongwe Mpenu MP), lawmaker for Nkhotakota central Edwin Banda, current secretary-general Chris Daza, Bestor Majoni and Lyton Dzombe.

While those that would be barred by the checklist include retired chief justice Lovemore Munlo, Malawi Assemblies of God president the Reverend Dr Lazarus Chakwera, former Cabinet minister Jodder Kanjere, former Farmers Union of Malawi (Fum) president Felix Jumbe and the party’s former director of political affairs Eston Kakhome

Tembo would also be barred to contest having exhausted his two mandatory terms.

Former education deputy minister Richard Msowoya , who is the only one seeking the post of vice president, is also facing rejection, according to the checklist.

But MCP members are againstbarring some candidates, saying the convention should make nominations and vote democratically.

The party members also want to challenge the vetting committee, saying it is “compromised”.

“The vetting committee has some interested members who are aspiring for the party presidency hence they will not be impartial,” said one top MCP official.

The committee comprises of six members who are Njobvuyalema, Ngozo, Yona Kaphamtengo, Jean Sendeza, Dzoole Mwale and Lington Belekanyama. Out of these, Njobvuyalema and Ngozo are presidential hopefuls.

During the heat of debate Njobvuyalema and his camp bragged:  “Tasunga chipani. (We have kept the party intact”; an assertion that did not go down well with the faction lobbying for inclusiveness, democracy and fair-play, the source said.

MCP, which ruled the country from independence in 1964 to the dawn of plural politics in 1994, is expected to elect its president who will lead the party in the 2014 presidential race.

Recently Tembo summoned all the aspirants to the top position in his bid to ensure that the run up to the convention and the outcome of the elections should not split the party.

Fast facts

Tembo has been a beneficiary of the Joyce Banda presidency.

  • His son John Tembo Jnr was appointed Deputy Ambassador in UK in one of the very first appointments made by President Banda upon ascending to the high office.
  • His nephew, Morgan Tembo, was later appointed Chairman of Escom.
  • His daughter-in-law Mrs Nancy Tembo is now a commissioner at the Electoral Commission where according to CEO of Standard Bank Charles Mudiwa, she will “rig” the elections for the ruling Peoples Party (PP).

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