Malawi Congress Party’s hope to purge Richard Msowoya and Gustave Kaliwo for allegedly scheming against its leader, will not end this month.
The party, which had summoned the two to a disciplinary hearing to resolve the wrangle in the boardroom, now has to wait a little longer as the court injunction Msowoya and Kaliwo obtained on Thursday means the disciplinary hearings—scheduled for February 9, 10, and 17—have been suspended.
The High Court in Blantyre has given the five MCP alleged ‘rebels’—party vice-president Msowoya, second deputy president Macdonald Lombola, secretary general Kaliwo, deputy secretary general James Kaunda and treasurer general Tony Kandiero—14-day respite effective February 2, to submit inter-partes summons.
This also means the five will continue to hold their positions until the court holds inter-partes hearing and issues a different order.
In letters, dated January 29 2018, inviting Msowoya and Kaliwo to a disciplinary hearing, MCP spells out offences that the suspended senior party officials have committed to warrant disciplinary actions against them.
The party says Msowoya and Kaliwo have been disloyal to the party president and broke party protocol by recognising Jessie Kabwila as the party’s publicity secretary.
Kabwila, alongside party members Felix Jumbe, legislator for Salima Central and Lilongwe Mapuyu South lawmaker Joseph Njobvuyalema were suspended on September 1 2017, for allegedly plotting with others to “take over” and/or destroy the party’s headquarters in Lilongwe.
The letters signed by the party’s newly appointed administrative secretary Wickford Sulamoyo also accuse Msowoya and Kaliwo of holding secret meetings where they allegedly discussed how to disrupt the party’s meetings.
Reads a letter to Msowoya: “In cohorts with Mr Gustave Kaliwo and other persons you have schemed against the party’s leadership and shown disloyalty towards the party. In furtherance of this, you have held secret meetings, including one held on January 12 2018 at Mr Kaliwo’s offices, where strategies were discussed on how to disrupt the party’s meetings.”
While a letter to Kaliwo, apart from accusing him of recognising Kabwila at a rally in Mzuzu and Mzimba, and during radio interviews on Zodiak and other stations in December 2017, unilaterally, without consulting the leadership of the party, called for an emergency convention and proceeded to publicly issue notices of the convention.
“Even if you had been duly mandated to call for a convention which is denied, you sent invitations to persons who had since, to your knowledge either passed away or indeed, voluntarily left the party and joined other parties,” reads Kaliwo’s letter in part.
The party also accuses Kaliwo of gross incompetence and negligence, and creating and running parallel structures.
“You failed to complete the reconstitution of the Kwacha Trust despite being instructed to do so. You failed to complete on the job descriptions for office-bearers as requested by the party leadership. You failed despite being duly served with notice to attend meetings of management committee and the NEC since August 2016 without reason and/ or communicating the same to the party’s leadership,” further reads the letter.
While James Chatonda Kaunda, deputy secretary general, is being accused of belonging to and holding a position in another political party known as Democratic People’s Congress (Depeco).
Kaunda and Kabwila were not immediately available to respond to the accusations.
But, in a brief interview yesterday, Msowoya said the matter is with his lawyers.
On his part, Kaliwo said the disciplinary action against them is MCP leadership’s failure to admit that the party has been doing things wrongly.
He said he will continue recognising Kabwila as the party’s publicity secretary because his office has no records indicating that she was fired.
“There is no reason to remove Kabwila as a publicity secretary. I was not party to the decision to remove Kabwila, and even if I were there, I could have advised against the decision because it was unconstitutional. I will continue recognising Kabwila as MCP publicity secretary,” said Kaliwo.
He said other charges levelled against him were disgraceful, because they are not true.
“I did not call for the convention. More than half the party’s district chairpersons petitioned to call for a meeting. I was only the conduit,” he said.
On charge of incompetence, Kaliwo said the party wanted to benefit from his skills for free.
“They wanted to use my skills to reconstruct the Kwacha Trust without paying for it. If I was to do it, it could have been a favour. How ungrateful for the party to call me incompetent when I did not do them a favour,” said Kaliwo.
On accusations that he failed to develop job descriptions for some positions in the party, he said he could not have done that because the said positions were not in the party’s constitution.
“Illegal people were appointed to illegal positions. If the positions exist why were they asking me to develop job descriptions? They wanted to use my professional skills as a lawyer without paying for it?” wondered Kaliwo.
He also said the meeting on January 12 2018 could not be described as secretive because the group communicated to the party president what they discussed.
Asked on the way forward after High Court judge Healey Potani on Thursday ordered that Msowoya and Kaliwo should retain their positions pending a review, MCP secretary general Eisenhower Mkaka said the ruling was self-explanatory regarding the proceeding on the disciplinary action.
“The ruling is explaining our next course of action,” he said, adding that he could not comment further as he had not yet seen the letters.
Political analyst Happy Kayuni, who is head of political and administrative studies at University of Malawi’s Chancellor College, yesterday described the current challenges in MCP as a manifestation of problems political parties face in the country and in Africa in general.
“The problems in MCP now are an indication of the party’s failure to deal with the problems when they started. Each organisation needs to have formal and informal processes of dealing with problems. What matters is how the organisation deals with their problem informally.
“The disciplinary action is a formal process which indicates that the party failed to deal with the problem informally when it started. The offences cited by the party are just an excuse to legitimise the justification of their action to fire some people in the party,” he said.