The deep divisions rocking MCP today are new to some. But the fact is that although the party has unity as one of its cornerstones, it has been thriving on divisions.
Since the death of its former leader Hastings Kamuzu Banda, MCP has always been divided between those who uphold the party constitution and those who flagrantly abuse it.
That Lazarus Chakwera is bullying everyone in the party who is more sensible than him isn’t surprising. That’s what MCP does when Malawi is going to elections.
Here are the fast facts of divisions in the party:
In 1997, Kamuzu dies. MCP goes to a convention and elects Gwanda Chakuamba as president and John Tembo as his deputy.
In 1999, Tembo calls for convention to choose a presidential candidate despite Chakuamba having a five year mandate from a 1997 convention.
At that convention Tembo was thoroughly defeated.
Same convention mandated MCP to go into an alliance with Aford.
Tembo decampaigned this alliance. Chakuamba and Aford get defeated in the election in 1999
Court battles ensued between Tembo and Chakuamba over the leadership of MCP.
In the aftermath, Tembo joined ranks with Bakili Muluzi of UDF.
With cash from Muluzi, Tembo managed to sponsor a revolt against Chakuamba in Parliament.
While the standing orders clearly stated that the leader of the largest opposition party would automatically be leader of opposition, Speaker Sam Mpasu granted Tembo’s faction the wish that the MPs from the largest opposition party should elect who should be leader of the opposition. This is how Tembo became leader of the opposition.
When Chakuamba boycotted Parliament in protest, through the collusion of Muluzi, Tembo and Mpasu the National Assembly passed a motion to suspend Chakuamba for a year.
The Tembo machinations went outside Parliament. With Muluzi money Tembo also managed to sway voices inside the party against Chakuamba. This is what resulted into the Chakuamba and Tembo factions holding seperate conventions in 2002.
The two conventions were nullified by the High Court.
A single convention followed at Motel Paradise in Blantyre where supporters of the two factions hacked each other.
The following day of the convention UDF thugs assisted the Tembo faction to terrorise the Chakuamba supporters.
When the vote was taken at the convention, Tembo won because many of Chakuamba supporters had fled the convention.
Chakuamba reacted by forming the Republican Party.
As pay back to Muluzi, Tembo supported the Open Terms Bill in Parliament. The bill failed so too Muluzi bid to go beyond the two terms.
Tembo’s support for the bill divided the MCP even further.
In 2004, Tembo lost to Dr Bingu wa Mutharika. The loss led to the emergency of the Chris Dazas of this world. Using Tembo’s methods he also started demanding for conventions to choose a leader of MCP.
The MCP run the 2009 elections while Tembo’s candidature was being challenged by the Dazas.
Desperate, Tembo allied with Muluzi. They lost to Bingu.
In 2013 Chakwera gets elected MCP president at a convention. He loses 2014 elections. Immediately he begins kicking out of the party those that oppose his dictatorial tendency. The party has been divided since, with the divisions getting worse by the day.
That is to say, MCP has a curse hanging on its head, the curse of the many people it killed, maimed, jailed, exiled and dispossessed of their property for 31 years.
It is a party that has failed to adapt to democratic principles of good governance within itself.
After 31 years of its dictatorial rule the party is still struggling to remake itself and respond to the needs of a democratic people.
Often its leaders are the same old mould: very arrogant, refusing to listen to voice of reason and acting with impunity to achieve their selfish interests.