Former Chief Justice Lovemore Munlo has disclosed that he declined a position in the Malawi Congress Party (MCP) national executive committee (NEC) because he felt the request from party leader Lazarus Chakwera vague and the offer was like for “a student picked for second selection after failing initial exams.”
Munlo, who fought against Chakwera during the MCP convention in August last year was left of the 37 initial NEC members.
In an interview which followed a news briefing by Welford Sabola one of his loyalists on Thursday, Munlo blamed his absence to party events on the MCP sidelining him and confirmed he had rejected Chakwera’s proposal to join the National Executive Committee (Nec).
“I felt as a student picked for second selection after failing initial exams as the party only asked me to join Nec following public criticism of the President’s omission,” he said.
He explained that since the convention he tried to render his support to the President and on his own initiative attended Chakwera’s first meetings in Kasungu, Njamba in Blantyre and in Mangochi.
Said Munlo: “Despite all this gesture and support he left me out of his first team of members of the national executive committee (NEC). Then after being heavily criticised in the media and by some party supporters in the country, he belatedly phoned me and offered me a position on the Executive Committee. I told him that coming late as it was the offer was rather vague and porous.
“I, however, assured the President that he had my full support and I was available to help him and the party in any capacity in which he would want me to assist. Since then the President or any of the senior members managing the party have not come back to me asking me to play any role.”
On his absence to party activities he said: “Being outside the management, I am never given the calendar of events so that I should know where the president is holding meetings. Closed as the party is now I am not briefed on the goings on in the party.” said Munlo.
Munlo, while insisting he remains loyal to MCP, also revealed he will not be contesting as MP as the party had not approached him on the matter too.
During the news briefing a highly charged Sabola also said it was sad that Chakwera left out Munlo and only came later to offer him a position.
“Since the MCP convention took place, the former Chief Justice made a decision to support the MCP president. Justice Munlo attended several rallies held by Dr Chakwera but despite showing solidarity for the party he was left out in Chakwera’s first team of members of the executive committee,” said Sabola.
Sabola described reports that Munlo was offered the running mate position or the position of secretary general in MCP, as mere speculation.
Reacting to Munlo and Sabola’s outbursts, MCP deputy publicity secretary Ezekiel Ching’oma said it is unfortunate that Munlo declined a NEC position because the party needs the contribution of people like him to move forward.
“If Justice Munlo has conceded that he declined Dr Chakwera’s offer then as a party we want to know which other way we can approach him for him to make contributions to the party. Justice Munlo might be the only person who was contacted before being appointed because most of us were drafted into the NEC even without being notified in advance,” said Ching’oma.
On reports that Munlo declined to be the running mate to Chakwera, Ching’oma said he could not comment on speculations.
Chakwera has since declined that he has been snubbed by Munlo saying his relationship with Munlo remains cordial and further defended Munlo’s absence from party rallies.
“The task of filling the NEC positions was given to NEC not the president. Do not speculate on the matter. Your sources might be wrong; me and Justice Munlo have a cordial relationship. If someone is not available at a rally it does not mean he is not loyal to the party. This is why as a party we would like to dispel the myth that senior officials should always be with the president,” said Chakwera.
Despite such a position from Chakwera it is clear that all is not well between the two heavyweights of the party.
Munlo has of late been conspicuously missing from rallies Chakwera has been holding in the southern region.
Party sources say relations between Chakwera and Munlo, one of the figures earmarked for the yet to be announced running mate of the party, deteriorated just after the party’s convention for unclear reasons.
But other sources said that Munlo might be bitter since from the onset, confident that he would carry the day during the tightly contested convention, had indicated to delegates to the convention that he would not accept any position other than the presidency.Follow and Subscribe Nyasa TV :