The Malawi Congress Party (MCP) convention, crucial to electing a presidential candidate and a possible running mate for next year’s tripartite elections, is in limbo.
This is because the High Court sitting in Blantyre Tuesday adjourned its ruling on whether to remove an injunction obtained by suspended vice-president Richard Msowoya’s faction restraining the party President Lazarous Chakwera from holding the convention next month.
MCP is scheduled to hold the convention in two weeks – April 4- 7 2018 at Mary Mount Secondary School in Mzuzu.
But after the court’s decision Tuesday to adjourn without giving a specific date for the ruling, acting party spokesman, Ezekiel Ching’oma, said the party cannot commit fully to holding the convention unless subsequent court outcomes are in MCP’s favour.
“After receiving both submissions the judge said he will deliver, his judgment on a later day but was not specific. So should he determine in our favour within this week, there is no reason to postpone the indaba, but if it’s to the contrary, we will have no option but reschedule it,” Ching’oma said.
Msowoya, who is also Speaker of Parliament, was suspended together with party Secretary General Gustave Kaliwo, his deputy James Chatonda Kaunda and Director of International Relations, Tony Kandeiro. Jessie Kambwila, who is Member of Parliament for Salima North-west, was expelled from the party.
Kaliwo with lawyer Kelekeni Kaphale obtained a court order which stopped Chakwera, who is first defendant, and Ching’oma, who is second defendant representing National Executive Committee (Nec) members stopping them from inviting the claimants to disciplinary inquiries and suspending them from convening a convention
In his arguments in court yesterday, Kaphale said the stopping of Msowoya, Kaliwo, Kandiero, Chatonda Kaunda from their positions and Kabwila from the party was wrong arguing that the MCP Nec, which came up with the resolution, was attended by “strangers”.
Kaphale argued that during the 2013 MCP convention, only six people were elected into the party’s politburo.
The four are the ones the party’s politburo suspended.
“So those who attended the January 2018 Nec meeting were strangers except for two, the president and Mr Lombola, for the record, there were between 53 and 54 people and therefore we question the legality of the resolutions which were made,” Kaphale told the court
“We also feel that the four were suspended without using rules of natural justice. The meeting by Nec on January did not have any agenda. We were told the agenda would be circulated at the meeting,” he said.
But MCP lawyer Robert Nthewa said the 2013 convention gave the mandate to the current president to fill in the remaining positions in the Nec arguing the convention is the highest authority governing the party.
He said the current Nec has powers to advance the objectives, of the party.
Kaliwo, however, objected saying the convention does not give the president appointing powers on who should be in the party’s highest committee but rather it is the constitution.
On the other hand, MCP wants the injunction discharged because this is the fourth case in court talking about the party’s politburo.
Nthewa said the injunction affects all members of the party from solving the squabbles which are in the party.
He further said the claimants were only suspended from Nec and not from the party and the convention would be the right channel for the four to claim their positions.
“The court should also consider the time factor… In the interest of justice, the injunction should be discharged considering that elections are just next year and convention is just around,” the party lawyer told the court
“They can renew their positions during the convention if nothing stands their way. If the claimants are really willing to make or see MCP in order, they would have used internal mechanism,” he argued.
After submissions from both parties, Judge Jack Nriva, adjourned the case to a later date for determination.
As Kaliwo and Kaphale moved out of the court premises, they were booed by MCP supporters who were chanting party songs outside the court.
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