In April, Malawi Congress Party (MCP) postponed its convention after failing to raise enough funds and to secure a lodging place for its delegates.
A month later, how far has the party gone in addressing its shortfalls to ensure they have a convention soon? The Nation’s EPHRAIM NYONDO talked to the party’s chairperson of the convention Joseph Njobvuyalema on this and other issues emerging in the party.
Q: You cited two issues behind the convention’s postponement in April—funds deficit and failure to secure a place where all your delegates should lodge. How far have you gone in addressing these challenges?
A: In terms of finances, I haven’t met with the convention’s finance committee to see how much they have raised to cover the deficit. But I am given the impression that they are getting on well, and soon, we should be able to hold the convention.
On the lodging, we are banking on the closure of the Natural Resources College (NRC), which has always been our choice. We believe as they close on June 14, we will take the opportunity of their recess and find accommodation.
Q: Weeks ago, the media reported that the party will only consider ‘genuine’ members to contest at the convention, especially on the post of the presidency. What constitutes a ‘genuine’ member?
A: I did not make that comment, so I would not be in a position to divulge details on that. However, as it is in any organisation, there are rules that govern every administrative process. We have criteria that will be used to screen every contestant at the convention. Until the national executive council (NEC) changes its tune, the criteria remain binding.
Q: Don’t you think this ‘criteria’ discourse will be misinterpreted by the likes of Chakwera, Jumbe, Kanjere and Munlo who are contesting for the presidential seat?
A: Not at all. The criteria of screening contestants will not stop at the position of the presidency. It applies across the board. So, there is nothing like targeting a particular individual here. Everyone has a right to contest if he/she meets the set criteria.
Q: Based on the party’s constitution, John Tembo is not eligible to contest because he has already served two terms. Why, then, was he allowed to take and present nomination papers for a post he does not qualify for?
A: We need to understand that Honourable Tembo is a human being, just like any other person in the party. As such, if he wants to contest and there are some legal issues to iron out, it is up to the party to make decisions. The party, through the national executive council will decide on that one.
Q: Some party committee members are saying they will consider giving Tembo a position if he bows out of the convention as a token of honour for his service. At what level has the party discussed it?
A: I only read that in the newspaper. I am not aware of anything of that sort. I am an old member of MCP and a very senior NEC member but I can say here without contradiction that I have not been involved in discussions of that sort. The whole thing sounded strange to me and I know nothing. When I read it in the papers, I asked myself: ‘which members?’ So, get it from my mouth that I don’t know these people.
Q: What chances do you have as MCP that you can convince Malawians to vote for the party come 2014?
A: You see, if Malawians cannot do this right now, then the problem is theirs. They have tried UDF and they saw what happened. DPP came in and they saw what happened. The same with PP. There is hardly a reason for Malawi not to go back to MCP. We are the only party with a history of development in this country. We have all the transformative ideas Malawi needs because we have done it before.
Q: Do you think the way the party has conducted itself since it fell from power is good enough to convince people to vote for it?
A: Yes, why not? We have been disciplined, avoided political prostitution and above all, we have been a party that has always provided constructive criticism and insights in Parliament. Beyond that, our political rallies are not a jamboree of cursing and name-calling, the way other parties do it. Maybe people have forgotten, but we are a party that came out of power without stealing money from government.
Q: Any word?
A: I want Malawians to sober up as the country drifts towards 2014. The campaign trail will be awash with people throwing around money and material things. But that is not the development Malawi needs. They should give MCP a chance for this country to return to its glorious ways.
Wise One from the East will review this interview, in the light of information that has come his way, from high level sources.
Stand by for some cold, hard and bitter truths.