Malawi Congress Party (MCP) has admitted that it held a quick convention after the Supreme Court vacated an injunction their embattled former secretary general Gustave Kaliwo took as one way of avoiding further injunctions.
Re-elected MCP president Lazarus Chakwera said this on Sunday night when he officially closed the convention which took place from May 11-14 at the party’s headquarters at Lilongwe City Centre.
He said the injunctions derailed the new agenda for the party as the legal battle between the party and the Kaliwo camp—which also included Richard Msowoya, Tony Kandiero, James Chatonda Kaunda and Jessie Kabwila—brought the party to a standstill as time was being spent at the courts instead of discussing important issues.
Said Chakwera: “I would like to appreciate the organising committee for their preparations of the convention. Though they did it in a hurry, but here we are by the grace of God we have done it. We had to do it as soon as possible after the vacation of the court order to avoid the running battles on an injunction that was there.”
MCP has been in running court battles with its former Kaliwo and four others for suspending them in the party after Kaliwo called for an emergency convention mid-last year.
Chakwera obtained a court injunction stopping Kaliwo from holding an emergency convention for the party from July 7 to 9 2017 with parallel structures.
Kaliwo told the media then that he called the convention to clear their differences based on Article 40 of the MCP constitution which states that district committees or the national executive committee (NEC) are mandated to call for a convention.
According to Kaliwo, half of the district committees called for the foiled convention.
However, the case was discontinued last month (April) by Chakwera on the grounds that the matter could better be resolved within the party.
But despite this, there was an injunction again at the High Court in Blantyre which restrained the party from holding a convention which it had planned from April 29 2018.
According to a court order signed by Justice Mike Tembo on May 7 2018, the party was not supposed to hold a convention until matters relating to the suspension of Kaliwo and the other four was resolved.
After the order, the MCP NEC reinstated the five in their positions before calling for the convention which ended Sunday night.
However, Kaliwo has continuously said the convention was illegal and that according to the party constitution, Richard Msowoya is the acting party president.
Livingstonia University political analyst George Phiri described the convention as an act towards undermining democracy by distributing positions instead of voting.
Phiri said by just distributing some positions, some people given the positions may not be able to perform.
“In summary, I can say democracy has been undermined greatly. We have also seen gender insensitivity in the positions. They could have allowed people to contest as those who wanted to contest wanted to deliver, but what has happened in undermining democracy,” he said.