The main opposition Malawi Congress Party (MCP) and former ruling People’s Party (PP) have described 2015 as a politically successful year despite some intraparty squabbles that created divisions among members.
Both MCP spokesperson, Jessie Kabwila, and her PP counterpart, Ken Msonda, said the differences that existed in the two parties for the better part of the year justified the presence of intraparty democracy.
In the year ending, reports that some district chairpersons with the alleged support of Salima Central Member of Parliament, Felix Jumbe, pushed for an extraordinary convention that would scrutinise the leadership of party president, Lazarus Chakwera, brought some serious divisions in the party.
The leadership wrangles also rocked the party’s Southern Region committee threatening the future of the party in a region where MCP already struggles.
But Kabwila said what MCP experienced in the year can only be described as differences in opinion not leadership wrangles.
“Yes, we have had some differences within the party but we cannot describe them as challenges. They are not leadership wrangles. We had some people who differed in the Southern Region, some in the Central Region but they were not leadership wrangles per se. They were democratic differences.
“If anything, they were just healthy debates that any party which is democratic in its endevours can have. Those were just democratic conversations that do not, at all, threaten the future of Malawi Congress Party.,” Kabwila said.
She said the good relationship among the party members was manifested in the way they worked in the National Assembly.
“Our performance in Parliament showed that we are still able to effectively play the role of the main opposition party. We prevented the Democratic Progressive Party government from abusing its power. All that was possible because MCP, who also chair various committees in the house, were united and kept government on its toes,” she said.
In the PP, the absence of party president, Joyce Banda, created debates and some questionable appointments that in the end have led to the recent firing of party’s Chairperson for the Northern Province, Christopher Ngwira.
Ngwira wanted former Vice President, Khumbo Kachali, to take over PP leadership in the absence of Banda, the decision that did not please the party’s National Executive Committee.
However, Msonda said the issue has not, in anyway, derailed progress in the party.
He insisted that while the party respects the right to opinion among its members, there is need for maturity in expressing such opinions.
“The issue [about Ngwira’s outburst] is more than what the media is reporting. But as a party we know what is happening and that’s why we disciplined him. And I can assure you that the party leadership is intact and all the protocols in the party are intact. Only that a few people in the party are trying to exercise their democratic right in a bad way,” Msonda said.
On the resignation of Vice President for the Northern Province, Harry Mkandawire, and defections of Brown Mpinganjira, Sosten Gwengwe, Ettinor Koloviko and others from the party in 2015, Msonda said loss of any family member is regrettable but in politics people at the grassroots are more important than leaders.
“Strength of a political party is not in its leadership but structures in the constituencies, branches or areas. That’s where we have people that matter in politics,” Msonda said.