MCP MPs tell Tembo to snub UDF
by Gedion Munthali, 24 December 2005 - 04:29:55
Members of Parliament from the opposition Malawi Congress Party have written their president John Tembo expressing their unhappiness for his support of President Bingu wa Mutharika’s impeachment and association with United Democratic Front national chair Bakili Muluzi.The letter, said to have been written by 39 MPs and copied to all MCP MPs, national executive committee members and district chairmen, demands that Tembo should publicly distance himself from the impeachment, claiming attempts to remove Mutharika are making him and his Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) even more popular in their areas.Instead the MPs want Tembo to focus on rebuilding MCP, especially in the South and North where, they say, it is unpopular having lost structures to other parties.Says the letter, dated December 8: “We could have raised our concerns during caucuses we normally have at your house but you very much know the way you chair caucuses. We are never free. We have, therefore, resolved to be expressing our views through letters to you.“We, 39 MPs of MCP, wish to urge you and all our fellow MPs to vote against this impeachment because it is not popular in our constituencies. The just-ended by-elections have proved that people are against the impeachment.”DPP won all the six seats in the by-elections held on December 6.An MP from Lilongwe, who is part of the group, said people took him to task when he addressed a meeting in his constituency last Saturday.“They wanted to know why [Tembo] supports the impeachment of Mutharika. They said they do not see the reason why the head of state should be removed. I had problems explaining the issue. Actually I said Tembo himself was in a better position to give reasons,” said the MP.A Ntchisi parliamentarian said the impeachment has helped market Mutharika and win him sympathies “because things he has introduced, among them fertilizer subsidy, are making a difference among the people”.“People of Ntchisi can now see that the Tarmac road which the previous two administrations failed to construct is now becoming a reality and wonder why Bingu should be impeached,” he said.The letter questions Tembo’s association with Muluzi, as well as reports that UDF would help Tembo become leader of the proposed National Governing Council once Mutharika is impeached.“We are amazed that you and a few MCP MPs think Muluzi and UDF could have our interests at heart. Just to remind you, Muluzi campaigned vigorously against you [during last year’s elections], and his party admitted to have rigged the election which prevented you from winning. How can the UDF now want you to lead government?” says the letter.The letter says Tembo has failed to sell the party in the North and South because he only holds meetings in the Central Region.Party officials interviewed in Nsanje, Chikwawa, Mwanza in the South, Chitipa, Karonga and Mzimba confirmed Tembo has not been to their areas for years.On Friday Tembo said he was not in a position to take questions when his comment was sought on the matter.The letter also accuses Tembo of favouritism regarding appointments to parliamentary committees and administration of trips and assignments.“You have appointed some MPs to three parliamentary committees while others are only in one committee. On international trips, you have decided to ignore certain sections of MPs. Some MPs have gone outside the country more than eight times, while a lot of MPs have never been sent outside the country. Please empower all MPs equally,” the letter reads.An MP from Mchinji said since he was elected he has never travelled.“You will be shocked that the party has never sponsored me even to attend a domestic workshop. It is the same people attending these things, yet all of us need exposure,” said the MP.The letter also ask Tembo to call for a convention to fill vacancies that exist in the national executive committee of the party, saying most office bearers were just appointed.The letter also calls for elections in all regional, district, constituency, area, branch committees, saying maintaining the status quo is against the MCP constitution, and a resolution of the party’s convention on April 29, 2003 held at Motel Paradise in Blantyre.“Terms of these committees, according to the MCP constitution, is three years, but they have been there for close to 10 years. Actually, at the Blantyre convention it was resolved that elections should take place immediately after the general elections. This has not happened,” said the official.Article 24 of the MCP constitution ratified by the said convention reads: “Every three years, a joint regional conference of the constituency, district and regional committees and members of Parliament shall convene for the purpose of electing new regional office bearers.”MCP publicity secretary Nicholas Dausi conceded that the committees had indeed outlived their mandates but the party would address the issue. “We had elections last month of the regional committee in the South. From here will go to other regions before going to the districts,” said Dausi who is also MCP vice president.“What I would say though is that there is need for dialogue because these things about misunderstandings among our MPs keep on coming,” said Dausi.But Dausi doubted the claim that the letter was written by 39 MPs, more than half the party’s 59 legislators.