Malawi Congress Party (MCP) has been given a 14-day ultimatum to hold an emergency convention by Thursday this week or face court action.
This is according to a petition some members of the party, delivered to the party’s headquarters on October 4, 2015.
But the party’s secretariat says they cannot hold the convention as the said petition is vague.
The Daily Times has been reliably informed that the petition, which is not dated, was delivered to a watchman at the party’s headquarters on October 8, 2015.
“We, the district committees of the MCP, in pursuance with Article 40 of the party’s constitution, would like our Secretary General, the Deputy Secretary General and our president to call an emergency convention to discuss issues affecting our party,” reads the first page of the document, which The Daily Times has seen.
It adds: “We would like the emergency convention to be called within 14 days, failure of which we will take the matter to court.”
According to Article 40 of the MCP constitution, an emergency convention shall be summoned if the National Executive Committee (Nec) resolves by two-thirds of its membership or at the request of half of the number of district committees.
Article 39 (b) of the said constitution says not less than seven days’ notice shall be given of an emergency convention of the party.
The petitioners say they want the convention to endorse some positions that are not in the constitution and to review some sections of the party’s constitution which are not being respected.
They also want a scrutiny of the party’s finances, as well as review the regulations governing the conduct of regional and district elections.
“[We want the convention] to give powers to the National Executive Committee (Nec) to change positions that were acquired during the party’s convention,” reads the petition.
A quick analysis shows that chairmen from 22 political districts signed. Five youth chairmen from some political districts have also signed the petition, making a total of 27 signatories to the petition.
But the party’s Administrative Secretary Potiphar Chidaya said they cannot act on the petition because it is vague.
“After examining this document, it was found that it is vague because the Article 40 the people have quoted says if people want an emergency convention, then half of the district committees must demand it, they must petition. That means 30 people in a committee must meet, and resolve that things are not well in the party, the only remedy is to go to a convention,” he said.
He added: “But it would appear people just approached the district chairmen. They only met the district chairmen, and asked them to sign. It falls short of the required standards.”
Chidaya challenged the petitioners to go to court.
“There is nothing we can do, we checked with these five district chairmen, those standing for their friends. They are not aware of the 14 days. This makes the whole thing vague,” he said.
The Daily Times managed to independently verify with the five district chairmen Chidaya talked about.
Three fully owned the document while two were not in agreement with what was delivered at the party’s headquarters.
Lackson Khamalatha of Mtakataka explained the reason of signing the petition: “I signed the petition. We want a review of our party’s constitution. If they will not call [for] the convention, all the 27 of us will have to decide what to do. We just hear that new party members are being given Nec positions. What does the constitution say on that? We need to review it so that what we are doing is in line with the constitution.”
Langizani Mapulesi of Salima said they will take the matter to court if the emergency convention is not called.
However, Wisiki Mnonyela of Machinga said his committee will discuss what to do next if the convention is not called.
Mzuzu district chairman Gilbert Chione said he signed after he was told that senior party officials would like to remove existing party leaders from their positions.
“I was told that our senior leaders wanted to replace us in the positions we are holding. When they said we should discuss the issue, I thought it was important. But in our discussions nothing about an emergency convention was said,” Chione said,
He said he was approached by one Azam Mwale.
John Chiluzi of Mwanza, also said he was not aware he was signing a petition that was demanding a convention.
“Agent leman who introduced himself as Mwale told me to sign a certain document. After I signed, he said we need to have a convention. I am not for the idea. I recognise Chakwera as president of our party. I don’t want that convention,” Chiluzi said.
The Daily Times has, on several attempts, not succeeded in speaking to Mwale
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