Malawi: MCP squabbles a test of intra-party democracy, says rights group

malawi_john_temboThe infighting in the Malawi Congress Party (MCP) not only left the party confused, weaker, visionless and purposeless but also the Malawi opposition as a whole, according to a local human rights watchdog. (pictured: John Tembo)

A statement, issued by the Centre for Human Rights and Rehabilitation (CHRR), e-mailed to Nyasa Times registers the rights campaigners wary over the protracted leadership wrangle that has of late characterized the MCP.

CHRR statement issued by its executive director Undule Mwakasungura said in trying to resolve its differences through the media or the courts, MCP will only succeed in aggravating the already existing misunderstandings that the party is experiencing now.

A group of MCP lawmakers and officials have formed a task force to push out party president John Tembo, 77 for the partys loss in May 19 general elections.

But Tembo is clinging to the party helm until what his aides say a convention sometime in future will remove him.

We at CHRR would like to believe that the rebuilding of the MCP does not and will not solely depend on the ousting of Hon JZU Tembo neither will it depend on the firing of rebels from the party but rather MCP as a whole need to do a comprehensive post mortem of the party poor showing at the polls. Certainly there are a lot of issues that have contributed to the sorry state MCP has finds itself in today, said a CHRR statement.

Rights campaigners believe that the debate going on in MCP is a sign of intra party democracy at play, but pointed out that the avenues and strategy employed in carrying out the whole process is a misplaced and counterproductive.

We at CHRR are sure that MCP does not need the courts nor firing of unruly party members nor resolving its problems in the media as these avenues will only worsen the situation at hand.

In the same vein the strategy taken by the MCP Taskforce on leadership Change to either forcibly ask Hon Tembo to retire or drag him to court to account for party money he is alleged to have abused is also counterproductive to the rebuilding of the party. Accusations and counter accusations are not the remedy at the moment.

On the other hand, the rights watchdog said the not listening attitude adopted by the Tembo led MCP faction where it is describing the MCP Taskforce on leadership Change as hired thugs who are performing for their political paymasters is as threatening to intra party democracy as it is also a recipes for more trouble in MCP.

We at CHRR are more concerned that the effects of the fighting in MCP has a negative influence on the whole political landscape in Malawi. The democratization and good governance process in Malawi depends on the strong opposition that cannot be without a strong Malawi Congress Party. The effects of weak opposition have already started being felt in Malawi and we cannot afford to have it weakened anymore, said the statement.

The body said a strong opposition which is a basic prerequisite towards attending a mature and meaningful democracy in Malawi largely depends on having and equally powerful and undivided opposition block.

Mwakasungula urged MCP in the statement that besides being guided by its four corner stones of Obedience, Loyalty, Discipline and Unity, it also needs a filth corner stone of open contact and dialogue to foster intra party democracy for it to survive in this multiparty dispensation.

MCP needs to open up and have a listening ear to people with different point of view.

CHRR advises that the poor showing of the party at the last general elections should not act as a breaking point of the once mighty MCP but rather it should be reference and learning point where leadership in the party can learn from.

We at CHRR believe that there are a number of lessons MCP can learn from the last general elections. Certainly the party did not do well solely because of Hon John Tembo alone. If it was a mistake to go into electoral alliance with UDF that everybody including Hon Chafukila is to blame. It is a collection responsibility that the party performed badly and it follows that a solution too to the problems MCP is facing today can only be solved collectively.

Rights campaigners said Malawi need a strong opposition which can provide the much needed checks and balances to the majority Democratic Progressive Party in parliament.

The watchdog therefore urged MCP to do a thorough postmortem of the last general elections and find possible causes of the decimal performance of the party rather than putting the whole blame on the leader.

If the postmodern suggest that the leadership has no vision for the party or is clueless on how to turn around things in MCP then an early convention is inevitable for the party to either renew the mandate for the leadership or have new blood altogether. MCP needs to prepare now for the next general elections and it needs to have a collective vision as a party, advised CHRR.

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