It was all drama in Parliament as factions in the divided Malawi Congress Party (MCP) took positions in a public showdown that played out the conflict.
The dramatic showdown reminded everyone of irreconcilable differences in Malawi Congress Party that are now playing themselves out in Parliament where Speaker Richard Msowoya and his camp and those on Lazarus Chakwera’s side are fighting openly.
The two camps tussled yesterday on Thursday, 22 February in the august house over UDF’s complaint about the decision by the High Court to sustain a corruption case involving the party’s former leader Bakili Muluzi.
Speaker Msowoya rightly ruled against discussion of the matter in the house.
He argued that the issue was in court, another arm of government, and that Parliament had not mandate to interfere with it.
Displeased with the Speaker’s ruling, UDF MPs held a caucus and when Parliament resumed sitting in the afternoon, Msowoya again put his foot down against allowing any discussion on the matter.
To the surprise of many, MCP MPs who are in Chakwera’s camp took Msowoya’s position personally.
Peter Chakwantha remonstrated against Msowoya, openly accusing his party’s deputy president of bias.
“Mr Speaker sir, you are making decisions emotionally. This will turn the House into chaos,” Chakwantha protested.
Msowoya lashed back at Chakwantha. He accused him of poor performance as chairperson of the Legal Affairs Committee of Parliament.
” I remember you were chairperson of the Legal Affairs Committee for three years that is why you can say that kind of nonsense,” Msowoya retorted.
Chakwantha was up on his feet again. But the Speaker threatened him: ” If you continue doing that I will throw you outside the House.” The MPs outside MCP cheered.
The Speaker got the backing of suspended MCP publicity secretary Jessie Kabwila who also spoke against having the UDF matter discussed in the house.
While the fighting played out, MCP president Chakwera sat face down – clearly embarrassed and helpless about the open fighting between his people
As Msowoya walked out of Parliament, DPP MPs applauded him shouting ‘Booma! Booma’.
Outside, MPs on Msowoya side were the more cheerful of the two camps.
“I like that. Let them fight. I only join in battles that make sense, not useless battles,” Kabwila wase overheard saying with a smile outside the House in reference to the problems in her party.
For the first time in the history of this Parliament, the body language of Chakwera and the MPs on his side tell of a party deep in crisis they have no solution for.
This open fighting in the house comes after MCP was stopped from moving a motion to impeach Msowoya as Speaker of Parliament.
When this mid-term budget review opened, People’s Party MPs from the North warned MCP that they were aware of the plot to remove the Speaker and they would not allow that to happen.
Chakwera suspended Msowoya and other senior members in the party such as Kabwila, secretary general Gustave Kaliwo, treasurer general Tony Kandiero snd NEC member Chatinkha Chidzanja Nkhoma for protesting against his violation of the constitution of the party.
The High Court granted Msowoya and his side an injunction against the suspension.
A report by the Economic Intelligence Unit last month ruled that Chakwera will lose the elections in 2019 because of the divisions he has sown in the party and because he lacks viable policy alternative for the country.