The governing Malawi Congress Party (MCP) has warned its National Executive Committee (Nec) members against going straight to meet with party leader Lazarus Chakwera without getting clearance from the party’s secretariat.
In an internal memo released on Thursday and signed by MCP secretary general (SG) Eisenhower Mkaka, the party says all requests to meet Chakwera must be routed through his office to avoid unnecessary duplication.
Asked as to what might have led to the memo, Mkaka said there have been attempts by a number of party members to meet with Chakwera without following laid out procedures.
“It is all in good spirit and intention. It’s all about protocol. Some people were calling the President’s secretary, others ADC [Aide-de-Camp], others guard commander and, yet, some chief of staff etc.
“In some cases, some people wanted to see His Excellency on matters that would be sorted out at party level without even involving His Excellency. It is all about bringing sanity, order, decorum and protocol. There is nothing sinister,” Mkaka said.
But the leader of Concerned MCP Members Alex Major described the memo as ill-timed.
“This memo is addressed to Malawi Congress Party members. MCP members have very little interest in the Head of State. We have an interest in MCP president that is all.
“How will other alliance members meet with the State President? Will it be through him, our SG? Why is the memo directed to Malawi Congress Party members only?” Major said.
He observed that Mkaka, as party SG, did not have powers to write such a memo, saying the party’s administrative secretary is the one who keeps the MCP president’s diary.
“This memo shows that the president is not interested in the party, hence he may wish to resign as the president [of MCP].
“We have never seen that kind of memo since 1959 when Malawi Congress Party changed its name from Nyasaland African Congress to Malawi Congress Party. We have had Bakili Muluzi, Kettie Kainja, Chris Daza, Gustav Kaliwo, Bester Majoni as secretaries-general of MCP but we have never seen anything like this,” he said.
“This type of protocol is as a result of failure of leadership and not otherwise. This is mediocrity at its best. The SG has no constitutional mandate to bring a policy without consulting district chairpersons. The memo is short of background backing,” Major said.
He wondered as to whether the MCP Nec discussed the policy shift at their meeting.
“If yes, he was supposed to say in the memo that, according to our discussions in a meeting held at such a date, we hereby confirm the same. Short of this, the memo does not exist at all. Our constitution gives powers to regional chairpersons to meet with the party president any time.
“We must remind Mkaka again that Malawi Congress Party is the ruling party and that policies being implemented must come from the people he is trying to restrict from meeting the party president. We need another memo from the president [announcing that he is] relinquishing his powers to Mkaka and, then, we will take it that way,” he said.
Political analyst Enerst Thindwa told The Daily Times that, if it was about a party issue, it was important that party structures and internal communication procedures be observed.
“The memo could be deemed to be an attempt to ensure that the party or state President focuses on strategic issues other than being overly preoccupied with purely operational matters which could be ably handled by appropriate party structures or offices. If it is a personal and private matter, party structures or channels need not come into play.
“The broader picture, though, suggests that political culture across parties tends to portray a party president as the principal patron around which everything else revolves. The closer one is and the easier the access to the party president, the better the opportunity for party members to enhance their political and financial fortunes. As such, incentives to ignore party structures are much higher such that informalities are entrenched to the core,” he said.