MCP trims presidential candidates to four: Mist on Chakwera

The stage is finally set for the long awaited Malawi Congress Party (MCP) convention which would be a make-or-break affair for the party as it elects a new leader who is also expected to lead the party in next year’s tripartite elections.

However, Nyasa Times is reliably informed that despite the earlier arrangement that the party will not trim the number of presidential aspirants which is at the moment 12, latest resolutions from the party’s inner circle reveal that in fact only four candidates will face each other during the convention.

Sources indicate that even incumbent John Tembo’s candidature is doubtful after he along his camp resolved to support party Secretary General Chris Daza.

Apart from Daza the other candidates remaining are former Farmers Union of Malawi President Felix Jumbe, former Chief Justice Lovemore Munlo and former party administrator Jodder Kanjere.

Rev Chakwela:  Face the chop
Rev Chakwela: Face the chop

The choice of the Tembo camp to support Daza is not coming as a surprise after recently the party’s national executive committee (Nec) decided to elevate him as a focal point, spokesperson of the convention and leader of the organizing committee of the national meeting.

Daza has since confirmed that the party is likely to release a reduced list of the candidates but said this will only be done closer to the convention.

He confirmed that all preparations for the national meeting have been concluded but he could neither confirm nor deny whether some of the presidential hopefuls will not participate in the elections.

“It is a fact that not all aspirants in all the positions will qualify to contest because certainly we have some people who have just come in but have not been active members of the party. Prior to the convention day we will make an announcement as to who will be contesting. Even the final names of the presidential aspirants will be announced,” he said.

Daza, who along vice President MacDonald Lombola have been given the mandate to speak on behalf of the party until the convention is over, said apart from tight security during the meeting the Malawi Electoral Commission (MEC) will oversee the elections to ensure a smooth process.

“As announced the convention will be held at Natural Resources College (NRC) and everything has been set. This time it is going ahead because NRC is only available until this weekend as after that schools will be opening,” he said.

Soon after a Nec meeting agreed on the dates of August 9, 10 and 11, party President John Tembo disputed the dates after they were announced by party spokesperson Jolly Kalero, who the party president termed as ‘childish’ for disclosing the dates before Nec could conclude its meeting.

Candidates who might be left out include former Malawi Assemblies of God president Lazarus Chakwera; former secretary general Betson Majoni; MPs Edwin Banda (Nkhotakota central); Joseph Njobvuyalema (Lilongwe Mapuyu South); Watson Makala-Ngozo (Lilongwe Mpenu); former director of political affairs Eston Kakhome; and former MP Lytton Dzombe.

The sources say while others such as Njobvuyalema, Makala-Ngozo and Dzombe have pulled out on their own to support Tembo’s anointed man, some of the candidates have been disqualified with Chakwera being disqualified because he has not been a member of the party for long.

Ironically, it is Daza who for a long time has been fighting Tembo calling for his retirement from the party’s leadership and also urging him not to stand again during the coming convention since he said the veteran politician as already seen his two constitutional terms at the helm of the party.

In a statement released Thursday afternoon, party president John Tembo  said the names of those to contest
at the  convention will be released on August 9 through a press conference.

“Everything has been set for the convention, we have hired buses to ferry all our delegates from Blantyre, Zomba and Mzuzu as converge points with an exception for Likoma District who will arrive early because of logistical issues,” said Tembo in the statement.

Tembo dropped a warning to the delegates: “Any delegate that will not be on these buses will not be allowed to be part of the process in order to curb the incident of fake delegates.

“There are stringiest screening measures that have been put in place at all points until the delegates enter the convention hall,” said Tembo.—(Additional reporting by Chancy Namazunda, Nyasa Times)

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