"The root cause of the conflict between UDF and the President is known all over the country,why should we waste our time fighting a war that is not ours?" - MCP Central Region district chairmen
There are cracks in the main opposition MCP over its support to impeach President Bingu wa Mutharika, with MCP Central Region district chairmen demanding that their president John Tembo dumps plans to remove Mutharika to UDF. But the UDF claims the MCP has been bought.
The chairmen, representing all the nine districts of Lilongwe, Mchinji, Ntcheu, Nkhotakota, Ntchisi, Salima, Dowa, Dedza and Kasungu, said they had booked for an appointment with John Tembo to convey the message from the grassroots last week, but were instead advised to meet some selected MPs in their respective districts.
“We are of the view that as MCP we should not waste time getting involved in conflicts that have nothing to do with us,” said a veteran district chairman, adding that the party president should concentrate on consolidating its activities in preparation for the 2009 elections.
The district chairman said MCP members in the rural areas are tired of seeing their party engaging in matters that are of benefit to UDF and its national chair Bakili Muluzi, a message he emphasised was coming from the grassroots.
He said the understanding in the rural areas is that the battle to remove President Bingu wa Mutharika is between him and his predecessor Muluzi, resulting from the fact that Mutharika ditched the party that ushered into power to form his Democratic Progressive Party (DPP).
“The root cause of their conflict is known all over the country,” said the chairman. “Therefore, why should we waste our time fighting a war that is not ours?”
Another veteran district chairman from the region said MCP’s focus ought to be getting rid of Bingu through the ballot in 2009.
At a press conference held on behalf of party president in Lilongwe this week, MCP spokesperson Nicholas Dausi insisted his party has at no time worked with UDF to plot Mutharika’s impeachment, but rather got involved in putting procedures in Parliament as required by the Constitution of Malawi.
“MCP has at no point worked with UDF to impeach President Mutharika,” said Dausi. “I think this must be made clear, otherwise we will end up misinforming innocent people out there.”
Dausi, who is also the party’s second vice president, said MCP views the current political situation as a crisis that needs immediate solutions for the country to progress in nation building and forge ahead in economic development and social transformation.
He blamed President Mutharika’s DPP for waging a propaganda war against the opposition, in particular the MCP, because of its strength in Parliament where it has majority seats.
Commenting on the apparent change of heart by some MCP MPs on impeachment, UDF spokesperson Sam Mpasu said he suspects that some of the MCP MPs have been bought by the DPP.
Mpasu said last week the UDF suspected that some MPs in MCP “must have received money from the DPP to confuse the impeachment proceedings,” he said without substantiating the claim.
“It is not surprising because we expected this to happen…Bingu is so desperate because he has no numbers,” he said.
Some 15 MCP MPs threatened to sabotage the impeachment motion largely because of differences over the legality as well as composition of the proposed National Governing Council.
“The issue of the NGC is the last straw…Muluzi used us to fight for the third and open terms and now he wants to use us to remove Mutharika?” Said an MCP MP who asked for anonymity.
Seven MCP MPs Nation spoke to just before Parliament adjourned said they had had enough.
“We cannot speak on record because we fear that Tembo will punish us. But enough is enough, we need some change in the way we approach issues in the party,” said an MP.
But MCP deputy spokesperson Bintony Kutsaila dismissed as lies assertions that some MCP MPs have been bought by DPP.
“That cannot happen in MCP, we are still a strong party and united,” Kutsaila said.
“What you should know is that every democratic party has its own differences over issues and that is not strange. But to differ does not mean that people are leaving the party,” Kutsaila said.
The NGC Bill is facing resistance not only in Parliament but from legal experts as well, who say it is unnecessary because the Constitution provides for a takeover in the event of the President’s office falling vacant.
The bill proposes that no former head of state should be in the committee that would include the Vice President, leaders of parties represented in Parliament and the Speaker.
Mutharika survived an indictment a fortnight ago when the courts stopped the proceedings and the diplomatic community warned that it would not support a government under the NGC.
“We will find it difficult to work with the NGC if Mutharika is impeached because of the hasty and suspicious way the impeachment is being done,” donors said in a statement.