The leadership struggle in MCP has taken an ugly turn with five camps now challenging to put in leaders of their choice to replace Lazarus Chakwera as soon as possible we can reveal.
Our investigations have revealed a new camp has emerged favouring Richard Chimwendo Banda to take over from Chakwera.
The emergence of the Chimwendo Banda camp now means MCP is split into five rival camps. Until now, three camps have been slugging it out silently. These are the George Zulu camp, Ken Kandodo camp and the Sidik Mia camp.
Those pushing for Chimwendo Banda argue that he was instrumental in the just-ended campaign with his youth conferences.
They believe he has good connection with the youth and that his strategies helped the party to get youth votes in the elections.
But particularly interesting is the fifth camp favouring UTM leader Saulos Chilima.
This camp wants Chilima to lead both MCP and UTM in the event that they are successful with the court case in which they are calling for fresh presidential polls.
Chilima and Chakwera have been fronting CSOs to organize demonstrations calling for MEC chair Dr Jane Ansah SC and commissioners to resign.
In an interview with this reporter, MCP’s publicity secretary Rev Maurice Munthali acknowledged having heard the rumours of bitter power struggle in MCP. But he dismissed them saying there is no such a thing in MCP.
“I read about the rumours on social media, but that’s not true. I am the publicity secretary but there is nothing like that, they are just mare rumors,” said Rev Munthali.
On Chilima’s emergence, Munthali said: “What has brought Dr. Chilima closer to MCP is the ongoing case which the courts ordered us to work together. Malawi Congress Party has got a leader and that leader is Dr Lazarus Chakwera. Anything else should be regarded as false rumors. That’s the basic answer I can give you,” he added.
However, in an interview with this publication, UTM’s Spokesperson Dr Chidanti Malunga said there is no way that Chilima can join MCP, let alone being running mate to Dr. Chakwera.
“But we can have an electoral alliance only if he (Chakwera) can agree to be SKC’s runningmate,” said Dr. Malunga.
“Looking at the history of MCP, there is no way we can become one and I assure you, in the event of a re-run, Dr. Saulos Chilima cannot be running to Dr. Chakwera,” he said.
Political Blogger and Commentator Wonderful Mkhutche argued that the court case is a “ticking power struggle bomb” for MCP and warned that the current divisions are simply a start of tough times ahead for the party.
“In all fairness, the ongoing court case has indeed divided MCP. If the court case does not go in favor of MCP, the party will have to forge its way forward. It is due to this that leadership pressure has started emerging in its ranks.
He added that with Chakwera barred from leading the party again in the next election, the party has work to do.
“The party will therefore have to look beyond. This is the puzzle the party has to solve towards the next election in May 2024. MCP should carefully manage this moment as this may end up frustrating its supporters and driving some to UTM as it may be their easy option,” explained Mkhutche.
According MCP’s constitution, Chakwera’s legal mandate to lead the party to elections is done as he is not allowed a third term.
It is this constitutional barrier which has opened a feisty power struggle as people search for his replacement.