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Below is the full version of the speech made by the speaker of the national assembly, Richard Msowoya at a press briefing in Lilongwe where he announced his resignation as member of MCP.
You may also find the audio version attached at the end of the text format of his speech.
My Fellow Malawian,
It is now 25 years since Malawians spoke in very unequivocal terms of their desire to create a new way of conducting public affairs. In opting for multiparty politics, Malawians did not only say Malawians can freely choose which political party to belong to, but they also said every citizen should have the right to contribute in their own small way to the governance of the country. That instead of power being concentrated in the hands of a few people, everyone with a view on how things can be done should be at least be heard.
The Malawi Congress Party, as the party in power then, listened to this voice and did the most difficult thing of allowing for a smooth transition from a one party system of government to a multiparty political dispensation. The levels of political tolerance exhibited by the MCP from the day results of the National Referendum were announced to the time of the first multiparty general elections remain unsurpassed to this very day.
This is something that the Malawi Congress Party can always be proud of and it is one of the many reasons that attracted me to the party. What we saw during that transition period was supposed to be a precursor of the democracy that Malawians were demanding. It was, therefore, a moment of immense pride and joy for me when delegates to the last constitutionally called Convention of the Malawi Congress Party in 2013 entrusted me with the noble duty to serve as First Deputy President of the Party.
My Fellow Malawians;
My election to this high office is not something I took lightly. At no point did I take my position, or indeed the party I was asked to serve, for granted. For me, this honour was a call to duty, a privilege to participate in upholding the values of the party’s founders and in realising the dreams of most Malawians. That is why I will remain eternally grateful to the party for affording the opportunity to contribute in my small way to its governance.
I am also very thankful to the party for sponsoring my candidature for the position of Speaker of the Malawi Parliament and members from both sides of the House for electing me to this high office. The trust bestowed on me on my election and the support throughout my tenure have been quite humbling.
Above all, I thank the people of Nyungwe, Karonga who played an integral role in raising and mentoring me, and then elected me as their Member of Parliament, not once, but twice, thereby entrusting me with the responsibility of ensuring that their voices were heard and development reached the community. To them, I owe so much and continue to thrive through their tireless support and immense wisdom and counsel.
I have greatly enjoyed contributing to Malawi’s nation building through the legislation, representation and oversight functions of the National Assembly. I am very delighted that together we have managed to bring true meaning to the role of the Legislature in Malawi whenever Parliament convenes. We have seen the committees working for the common good of Malawi and during my tenure Parliament has demonstrated real openness to the public by bringing about transparency.
As head of one of the three arms of Government, I have been humbled by the support rendered to me by Honourable Members and Malawians from across the country. It is very difficult to put in words my sense of appreciation, but suffice it to say I do not take your support for granted.
Current situation – National Level
My Fellow Malawians;
Malawi is a country that has a rich wealth of human capital to drive and sustain its development agenda as well as contribute meaningfully to the global economy; Malawi has a myriad of untapped opportunities, natural beauty, minerals and resources that give it immense potential for greater development. Having overseen several budget sessions in the National Assembly, I am very certain that Malawi can raise adequate funding to be able to work towards self-sufficiency in critical areas such as food security and quality public services in health, education and infrastructure development.
However, the current situation 54 years into our independence is not the kind of Malawi we all would have hoped to see, live in, be proud of and pass on to our children and all future generations yet to come. We need to courageously face our challenges while openly and honestly discussing our successes and failures if we are to formulate and implement the necessary corrective measures.
We see the state of despair in our communities, hear the plight faced by our brothers and sisters across the nation, and read in the media of many cases that speak of a nation in crisis. Cases of abuse of public resources and rampant malaise in all sectors in Malawi. The widespread stories of corruption and all the -isms have further stunted Malawi’s growth and development, as well as, created deep-seated divisions among our people.
The call for change has never been clearer; the need for each one of us to take ownership of the country’s problems at the individual, community and national level has never been more important. This is the time to dare to go against the grain and try a different approach from the status quo in order to create the Malawi that we all wish to thrive in.
What comes to each of our minds has the potential to make or break our country, and this very moment represents the turning point leading to either outcome. I must say that I choose a Malawi where everybody is equipped with the necessary tools to advance; where everybody is given a fair platform to prosper; and where everybody who, through hard work, humility, dedication and merit, prosper may be celebrated as they advance. After all,as the saying goes, “we rise by lifting others up”.
Current situation – Party Level
I was drawn to MCP because of the party’s core values and what its leadership stood for. Integrity and accountability guided by a strong institutional framework enshrined in a well framed constitution; developmental objectives that united, empowered and prioritised all Malawians across all sectors, regions, tribes, races, genders, ages and religions. Indeed, of all the major political parties in the country, it is the MCP which could be regarded as belonging to its wider membership, with no individual or family dominating its management. It is the only party that has held the most democratic conventions and ushered in leaders as expected in the current dispensation.
The pioneers of MCP greatly desired to see a developed Malawi. The systems put in place were to ensure that constitutionalism, hard work, and patriotism coupled with the four cornerstones of Unity, Loyalty, Obedience and Discipline are upheld within the party before anywhere else.
These are the strong foundations that have so far set MCP apart from other political parties and made it remain strong despite being in opposition for so many years. It was natural, therefore, that when attempts were made by the current leadership to break those very foundations of the party, I was among those that would not support any of it. I openly challenged many decisions that were contrary to the core foundations of the MCP. We tried contact and dialogue. Misunderstandings even went to the country’s courts of law. The substantive issues in the cases remain unresolved and are now at Supreme Court.
As we continued to pursue a solution, it pleased some to seek temporary relief from the Supreme Court, proceed to change the leadership of the party and amend its constitution in a manner and character that demonstrated panic and desperation for power. This was the culmination of many incidences of failure to embrace intraparty democracy and are a flagrant violation of its constitution. Intolerance to divergent and objective opinion that also is not in tandem to the current political environment has taken root, breeding a form of tyranny that is dangerous for Malawi. I do not believe that the MCP in its present state represents the ideals of its founders in the quest to bring about development to the people of Malawi.
Time of transition
In light of the current situation in our country and the aforementioned regrettable developments in the MCP, I have decided to resign from the Malawi Congress Party with immediate effect. I will, today, be presenting my letter of resignation to the party through Dr. Lazarus Chakwera, MP and will proceed as an Independent Member of Parliament. I encourage those who may feel let down by my resignation from MCP to look at the bigger picture and not lose sight of the work that we, as Malawians, have to do to ensure that our children and many to come inherit a healthy, vibrant and united Malawi – a Malawi that fully represents so many years of independence and self-rule. I am still convinced that this is possible and I remain committed to the fight for a better Malawi.
Way Forward and Call to Action
Moving forward, I will in the next few days be announcing how I plan to continue serving the people of Malawi. I strongly believe that together we must take ownership of the country’s problems, come together as a nation and collectively work towards rebranding, rebuilding and repositioning Malawi.
After winning the battle for independence in 1964 and claiming multiparty democracy 30 years later, we must now move to the next level and attain economic liberation. Believe me, Fellow Malawians, that this is unstoppable. I can see a new beginning which will soon be marked by the fall of the old order replaced by the new order. Change is coming.
I invite the civil society, reform-minded politicians and the media to push for change. I ask the youth to take charge of their future and change their destiny. Let us together create a prosperous and united Malawi. As Albert Einstein said and I quote, “The world will not be destroyed by those who do evil, but by those who watch them without doing anything.” Martin Luther King Jr. capped it well when he said: “Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter.”
Malawi is in a state where many of us must rise up and challenge the status quo. We only have one country that we call home. Malawi is our responsibility. For now, I pray that God continues to bless you all and continues to bless our great nation.
Click here for audio