Confusion continued to reign in Malawi Congress Party (MCP) yesterday as some delegates from the South were left fighting over who would attend the convention which starts today in Lilongwe.
By noon on Friday, the AXA bus the party had hired to ferry the members to the convention venue had not left as members fought for eligibility.
But during a press conference in Lilongwe yesterday, party leader John Tembo said he was not aware of the confusion in the Southern region.
Meanwhile in Blantyre, key party members such as regional chairperson Denis Nanthumba and regional secretary Elina Chimwala were barred from going to the convention, although Nanthumba vowed to go, wondering why as regional chairperson, he should not be part of the delegation.
The confusion started when Steven Chimowa, who claimed to be the party’s acting chairperson for the South, took charge of organising people who had gathered at the party’s office in Blantyre to travel to Lilongwe for the convention.
Asked why he was acting when there is a regional chairperson, Chimowa said Nanthumba resigned, a claim he denied.
Emmanuel Phiri, constituency chairperson for Chiradzulu West, also expressed surprise that Chimowa was acting regional chairperson.
“I wonder where this is coming from. He comes from my constituency and he has never been active till now,” said Phiri.
Blantyre district chairperson, veteran MCP member Roseby Dinala blamed deputy regional treasurer, Petro Kamala, for the confusion.
But Kamala said he was controlling things because Nanthumba and Chimwala had resigned.
“They resigned on 20th July last year. They claimed that honourable Tembo removed them from the party when it was not true.”
But Chimwala said he never resigned from the party: “If they say I resigned, let them produce evidence because one writes a letter when resigning. I have been secretary since 2005 and I have been always loyal.”
Tembo said the party has a list of bona fide candidates which was sent by regional leaders through the administrative secretary Potiphar Chidaya and the organising committee of the convention.
According to party sources, the problem on the delegates in the south started when the regional chairperson Nanthumba was unceremoniously booted out of the party’s national executive committee (NEC), a move believed to have been aimed at replacing the bona fide delegates with those favouring some of the candidates.
But Tembo explained that Nanthumba, who he said was on the list of the delegates, voluntarily resigned from NEC and his issue was awaiting a disciplinary hearing.
He could, however, not explain who sent the list of the delegates to Lilongwe.
Tembo, who called for peace and tranquility during and after the convention, insisted that the controversies in the South would not affect or destabilise the meeting.
The convention is expected to elect a president who will also lead the party in next year’s tripartite election as well as office bearers for other positions. So far 12 candidates, including Tembo himself, will contest for the party’s presidency.
Other contestants are secretary general Chris Daza, former Malawi Assemblies of God president Lazarus Chakwera; retired Chief Justice Lovemore Munlo; former Cabinet Minister Jodder Kanjere; 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; former president of Farmers Union of Malawi, Felix Jumbe; and former MP Lytton Dzombe.
During the press briefing, Tembo did not name the final list of the contestants as earlier promised, saying the mandate to decide who would contest would be left to the entire convention.
According to Tembo, almost 628 delegates from across the country are expected to attend the convention and participate in the elections.