Malawi Congress Party (MCP) has questioned a call by the party’s Lakeshore Regional Office to ask aspirants to be accompanied by personal bodyguards to primary elections set for this Saturday.
MCP spokesperson the Reverend Maurice Munthali said in an interview yesterday the arrangement was strange and promoting something the party does not believe in.
His sentiments followed an inquiry after the Lakeshore Regional Office wrote aspirants, including Salima North West legislator Jessie Kabwila and Dedza East member of Parliament (MP) Juliana Lunguzi, advising them to be accompanied by bodyguards to primary elections venues.
Munthali said: “We do not have a policy that is meant to sideline, frustrate or deny anybody their right to participate in activities and programmes. It would be strange if indeed honourable Lunguzi was left out in both the run-up to the primaries and actual polls themselves.
“As a party, we need to get a full report on the matter from all concerned parties and make an informed decision. However, what is so clear is that as MCP, we pursue an open door policy which has been emphasised by party president Lazarus Chakwera. To this effect, it would be wrong to allege that honourable Juliana Lunguzi is being sidelined by the party.”
In an interview yesterday, Lunguzi confirmed receiving the communication to arrange her security detail at the venue, wondering what she should anticipate at the primaries.
She said: “The regional office [Lakeshore] has told us to bring bodyguards to the primaries. This is strange because what will be the use of the bodyguards at primaries? In fact, I cannot do that because I have never travelled with a bodyguard before.”
This is the second time the party will be conducting primaries in Dedza East Constituency after the first were suspended due to violence.
Lunguzi said the communication has instilled fear in her as it implies that the party is expecting the worst at the elections to identify an MCP candidate for the parliamentary race in the May 21 2019 Tripartite Elections.
The legislator said after the abortive primaries, the party leadership also announced that there would be a preparatory meeting to map the way forward. However, she said while her challengers were invited, she was sidelined.
On her part, Kabwila confirmed that primaries in her constituency are scheduled for Nkombozi and that she has also been asked to arrange her security.
Unlike Lunguzi, she said she was invited to the preparatory meeting where they agreed that only area committees will vote and not constituency, district or regional ones.
“If they follow what we agreed, I will have no problem with it. If area committees will vote and I lose, I will accept because democracy will have worked. This will not mean that I will leave MCP,” said Kabwila.
Munthali warned MCP officials coordinating primary elections against diverting from the party’s policy, saying they will be responsible for their actions.
Primary elections in MCP have been marred by violence and complaints of irregularities in many constituencies, prompting some losing candidates to allege that the party has preferred candidates.
At the onset of the primaries in August, about 23 aspirants took the party to court alleging that it was being undemocratic and unconstitutional in handling primary elections.
In October some concerned sitting MPs told the media that something was amiss in the way the primaries were conducted; hence, bringing divisions and confusions in the party.