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Train has left Gustave Kaliwo, others

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Without too much ado, the opposition Malawi Congress Party (MCP) hastily held its elective convention last weekend when new office-bearers for the national executive committee were elected.

MCP president Lazarus Chakwera made a post-convention statement to the effect that, as soon as the Supreme Court vacated the injunction obtained by former secretary general Gustav Kaliwo against holding the meeting, they had to quickly convene to avoid further court orders.

Chakwera went unopposed just like businessman Sidik Mia, who is now vice president, and Mzimba West MP Harry Mkandawire who is second vice president

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In reacting to the hasty move to hold the convention, Kaliwo addressed a press conference on Friday, saying the meeting is illegal as he did not call for it.

Kaliwo and others, including former vice president Richard Msowoya as well as publicity secretary Jesse Kabwila, shunned the meeting.

Kaliwo also issued a threat that there would be consequences if MCP went ahead with the convention.

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Msowoya feigned ignorance on the convention as he was in Karonga attending a Catholic Church function where Vice President Saulos Chilima was in attendance.

Kabwila also tagged the meeting as a People’s Party or Sidik Mia convention.

It is this belligerent attitude which I find problematic, for I do not know what Kaliwo, Msowoya and others hope to achieve by engaging in it.

Who are the five serving by doing what they are doing as it is clear that the ultimate beneficiaries are the political enemies of MCP, who have been happy to see it happen.

Simply put, DPP is the main beneficiary of a divided MCP as the in-fighting will detract its leaders from performing their duty of checking the DPP excesses.

The main problem with the five, as I see it, is that they are political cowards who have been afraid of political competition posed by Mia.

In the end they gave Mia a free ride at the convention.

They have been complaining that Mia did not follow procedures for joining the party and that he used money to push his way through.

Instead of campaigning vigorously to make sure they maintain their positions, they resorted to being soup spoilers and tried to derail MCP and eventually stayed away from the convention as they resorted to issuing threats.

That single act means one thing and it is that the train has left them at the station.

This is political cowardice.

The main issue is really about who becomes partner to Chakwera on the MCP ticket next year.

All indications are that Chakwera has decided that he will have Mia as running mate.

Understandably, Chakwera, as a politician, wants the presidency at all cost and as a leader he is entitled to take a hard look at what happened in 2014, draw lessons from it and change strategy to bring on board people he thinks will win it for him.

At the moment, it is clear he thinks Mia could be a game-changer and the results of October by-elections when MCP won a seat in Nsanje seem to indicate that.

Let us not forget that Chakwera lost the presidency to President Peter Mutharika by about 400,000 votes.

He is trying to make up by making inroads into areas he did not do well in, which include the Lower Shire and Eastern Region, where Mia seems to have support, if results of recent by-elections are anything to go by.

As regards the dynamics of the convention, those who wanted positions stood and the rank and file was given a free choice to make.

Those who did not want to stand, such as Msowoya and others, stayed away.

They will have no choice but to do soul-searching about their political future because, if they are not careful, the train might have just left them behind out in the cold.

The question is: Will they continue fighting MCP as Kaliwo seems to suggest? Who will benefit from such a move? DPP? Why would they want DPP to benefit? Will they defect to other parties such as, indeed, DPP? Do they have the political capital without being in MCP?

For all his actions, Kaliwo, for example, does not have real political capital to trade for his political future but was only appointed into his position as secretary general by Chakwera.

At the end of the day, we need strong parties that follow democratic processes to the letter so that we have viable competition among them.

We need strong MCP, strong DPP, strong PP and strong UDF to battle it out in 2019.

We want proposals to solutions to our numerous problems in this country

All this can happen if we have stability in political parties through the owners of the party having the last word on what is happening.

Those that fight this, such as Kaliwo and Msowoya, will be left behind.

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