PP changes constitution to accommodate atidyenawo newcomers
Malawi’s ruling People’s Party (PP) has amended its yet to be adopted constitution to allow members who have joined it from other parties (atidyenawo) to contest at the national conference scheduled for August 27 in Blantyre.
Before the massive defections to PP after the death of president Bingu wa Mutharika, the ruling party’s constitution stipulated that only people who have been members for more than one year would be eligible to contest for positions in the political grouping.
But PP deputy publicity secretary Ken Msonda confirmed in an interview on Monday that the constitution was changed to accommodate other people in line with the party’s open door policy.
Msonda also said President Joyce Banda has challenged the membership to contest against her on the position of president because she believes in democracy.
“It is true that there was a constitutional provision that barred [newcomers] from contesting, but the provision has been left out. Now it reads that whoever is interested, provided that he or she is a PP member, can contest any position,” he said.
Asked when the constitution was changed, Msonda said: “You know this is a draft constitution which will be endorsed by the delegates at the convention. These changes have come about during the delays as you know we were expected to hold this convention in June.”
Msonda said PP has an open door policy that allows anybody who shares policies and ideologies of the party to join and participate.
“As a party, we know people will now engage in campaign for positions. We do not want those vying for positions to engage in smear campaign because this is an in-house contest and there is no need to insult each other,” he said.
Msonda also said the convention, which is expected to be attended by at least 2 000 delegates from the national executive committee, provincial committees, district chairpersons, secretaries, among others, would be funded by senior members of the party and well-wishers.
Political analyst Henry Chingaipe said the removal of the clause in the party’s constitution, which barred people who have not been in PP for less than one year, was good for democracy.
Said Chingaipe: “Allowing all bona fide members to contest enhances democracy as it gives people a wide choice, but it is clear they have specific people they want to take up certain positions.”
Some of the newcomers in the party expected to contest for various positions at the convention are Home Affairs Minister Uladi Mussa, Minister of Energy Cassim Chilumpha, Transport and Public Infrastructure Minister Sidik Mia and Minister of Lands and Housing Henry Phoya.