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MCP convention: Battle lines drawn

After months of protracted court battles, The Malawi Congress Party (MCP) has said all is set for the party’s convention which starts in Lilongwe today and is expected to end on Monday.

Chairperson of the organising committee, Augustine Chidzanja, announced the dates of the convention during a press briefing Friday.

MCP had initially planned to hold its convention in Mzuzu from 4 to 8 April this year.

But an injunction obtained by some of the party’s senior members including the party’s Secretary General Gustave Kaliwo, first Vice President Richard Msowoya, Director of International Relations, Tony Kandiero, First Deputy Secretary General James Chatonda Kaunda, and Salima North West MP, Jessie Kabwila, stopped the party from holding the elective conference.

Chidzanja said following the granting of a stay order by the Supreme Court of Appeal on Thursday on a recent injunction by the five, the party has now decided to conduct the elective conference at the party’s headquarters.

“The steering committee met immediately after the staying of the interlocutory injunction. We had initially resolved to have our convention in Mzuzu at Mary Mount Secondary School and we had made payments only to be encumbered by the injunctions. Since schools are in session, we won’t be able to hold the convention at Mary Mount Secondary School,” he said.

He said the delegates were expected to start arriving in Lilongwe yesterday, with the actual convention expected to start today.

At the time the presser was being held, the committee said it was yet to compile a list of all contestants.

Sources, however, said no person has currently expressed interest to contest against the party’s president Lazarus Chakwera. There were also indications that apart from businessperson Sidik Mia, no other person has expressed interest to contest for the position of first vice president.

Mzimba West Member of Parliament Harry Mkandawire, Loveness Gondwe(formerly of National Rainbow Coalition) and MCP deputy chairman for North South Region, Gracious Soko, are said to have expressed interest to contest for the party’s second vice presidency.

Second Deputy Secretary General, Eisenhower Mkaka is expected to compete with Deputy Publicity Secretary, Maurice Munthali, Lilongwe Mapuyu South MP, Joseph Njovuyalema for the position of Secretary General. Loveness Gondwe had also expressed interest to be considered for the position.

Publicity Secretary Ezekiel Ching’oma will square up against former Information Minister Moses Kunkuyu and businessman-cum-sports administrator Kondi Msungama for the Publicity Secretary slot.

During the briefing, Chidzanja also announced that for the position of president and deputy president, there is a nomination fee of K500,000 while for Secretary General and Deputy Secretary General, Treasurer General and Deputy Treasurer General, it is K250,000. He said for all the other positions, aspirants will pay a nomination fee of K50, 000.

“This is in the spirit of self help and fundraising. We are happy that those aspiring for different positions have responded positively,” Chidzanja said.

He also revealed that the party has written the Malawi Electoral Commission (Mec) to administer the elections.

Mec spokesperson Sangwani Mwafulirwa Friday confirmed receiving MCP’s letter but said they would respond.

“The Commission has always been eager to support stakeholders with balloting services provided they meet our requirement of providing a list of voting delegates and all competing candidates,” Mwafulirwa said.

The party held its last convention in August 2013, where the current president succeeded retired politician, John Tembo, as the party’s leader.

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