Trouble is brewing in Malawi Congress Party (MCP), with vice president Richard Msowoya mounting a campaign within the rank and file to stifle a possible challenge from Sidik Mia when the party holds an elective convention later this year
Mia, a political heavyweight in the Southern Region, joined MCP last year in a move to stop the dominance of Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) in the region.
But Msowoya’s faction in the party— which includes deputy vice president McDonald Lombola, secretary general Gustave Kaliwo his deputy James Kaunda, and treasurer general Tony Kandiero—is against Mia’s ambitions to contest as vice president of the party, accusing president Lazarus Chakwera of flouting the party’s constitution.
Mia has in the last few months, especially after orchestrating the Nsanje Lalanje Constituency and Ndirande Makata Ward victories, been going around campaigning for Msowoya’s position when the time comes.
Msowoya, who is also Speaker of the National Assembly, has, in the meantime, been mounting pressure on Chakwera in a desperate attempt to block Mia’s ascendance.
Over the weekend, Msowoya and his supporters boycotted a meeting called by Chakwera to discuss and plan for the party convention.
The faction wrote a letter to Chakwera accusing him of going against principles of the party’s constitution.
Msowoya and his team believe the only duly elected National Executive Committee was the one which came into office in 2013.
Some analysts The Daily Times talked to said the real issue is not the flouting of the constitution but, rather, the coming in of Mia.
Social commentator Humphrey Mvula said that the party is suffering “from its own past”.
“What MCP needs now is to be open, rebrand and move away from their archaic past which Kaliwo and Msowoya seem to stand for while Chakwera and the young people running the party have opened up to everyone to be a member because they understand the modern democratic discourse,” Mvula said.
MCP, he said, should know that gone are the days when someone had to be elected from the grass roots to be a member of the party.
Mvula said the party should open up, reposition itself and attract experienced politicians that would add value to the party.
In terms of numbers, our analysis shows that Mia can give MCP more votes than Msowoya.
Karonga District, where Msowoya comes from, can give the party under 200,000 votes, if we go by the list of 2014 Tripartite Elections registered voters in the district. And the Northern Region as a whole can potentially give the party around 1.6 million votes as per the registered voters in 2014.
The Southern Region, on the other hand, boasts around three million voters, according to 2014 elections’ registered number of voters, mathematically making Mia the better choice for MCP if they want to compete favourably in next year’s elections.
Both camps could not be reached on their phones yesterday. Msowoya did not answer his phone, so did MCP spokesperson Jessie Kabwila. The party’s secretary general Eisenhower Mkaka’s phone was off when we tried to reach him.
Mia declined to comment yesterday saying he plans to hold a press conference later this week where he may make comments.
Mia is an experienced politician. He was first appointed as deputy minister of Agriculture in June 2004. In 2005, he was appointed deputy minister of Mines. He held this last position from September 2005 until March 2009.
Mia was reelected as lawmaker in the May 2009 general elections on the DPP ticket and was appointed minister of National Defence. In 2010, he became minister of Transport and Public Infrastructure
Msowoya is relatively a political novice compared to Mia. He came to prominence when he was voted Speaker of the National Assembly in 2014.
He served as deputy minister of Education under the administration of the late Bingu wa Mutharika but resigned in protest against the introduction of the quota system which many believe works against capable students from some districts.
The party is yet to decide on the day of the convention, which is expected to rest the wrangle on who runs on the ticket with Chakwera between Mai and Msowoya.
A vibrant writer who gives a great insight on hot topics and issues