As the country inches towards the 2019 Tripartite Elections, pressure is mounting for United Democratic Front (UDF) President, Atupele Muluzi, to quit the party’s working relationship with the ruling Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) and concentrate on building the party ahead of the elections.
Muluzi is being accused by the party’s grass root followers of abandoning them to work with the DPP without consultations, a development which they say is weakening the party while giving the DPP administration an unfair advantage of abusing Malawians.
Going forward, the followers are demanding that Muluzi must come out of the relationship or risk being rejected by the party in the 2019 elections.
Speaking when the party’s Balaka District executive committee members held a press conference, Deputy District Governor Roy Mbewe explained that UDF’s grass root followers are not happy with the way the party’s leadership is handling its relationship with the DPP.
“As UDF supporters, we do not recognise that our party is in a relationship with DPP. And we cannot approve of that because people are suffering today because of the DPP. So, it is not our wish to be part of the system that is making Malawians to feel pain,” Mbewe said.
Mbewe said the supporters are asking Muluzi to resign so that they can choose another person to lead the party to the general elections.
“UDF is a big party and we cannot allow it to follow DPP, a party that was formed out of our party. We don’t want to be forced to vote for people we are not interested in because of the relationship which does not benefit us.
“We want to make our own choices and what we want at the moment is for Atupele to come back to us. He can even resign as a minister so that he can save the party,” Mbewe said.
The followers have also accused their party of not being open to them about the relationship, saying they have tried in vain to invite the party’s Publicity Secretary, Ken Ndanga, to brief them on the current situation but he never availed himself.
Making her comments, the party’s District Governess, Grace Wellos, urged the ruling DPP to stop using chiefs to castigate its critics, saying the move is backfiring and bad for democracy because the chiefs are doing that out of fear of being removed from their positions.
“As members of the UDF we are happy that Lucius Banda remains the only MP in the party. We, therefore, do not expect the government to be coming here forcing the chiefs to castigate him, this is unacceptable,” Wellos said.
In a related development, former Lilongwe City South West Member of Parliament, Iqbal Omar, who was fired as United Democratic Front (UDF) vice president, has also reignited his opposition to the UDF/DPP relationship.
Omar accuses Muluzi of advancing self-interests.
Omar, who says he is still the party’s vice president despite a decision by the party’s National Executive Committee (Nec) to expel him from the party in 2015, has been going to some districts in the Central Region, where he has been meeting the party’s supporters.
“People are querying us: Where is UDF going? There are concerns. Even myself and as UDF vice president, I know nothing about it. There no memorandum of understanding. All supporters of UDF are very shocked. We don’t want our party to die. UDF is a party for people, not an individual. It is owned by the people,” Omar said on Wednesday.
He insisted that that the party’s leadership was supposed to consult all members before the working relationship started.
“Let’s give the members a chance to air out their views. Most districts in the Central Region reject it. We want the UDF to be strong. The leader must be strong. UDF members should look at where they are coming from,” he said.
But Ndanga Thursday said the people are not members of UDF.
“Those people are not UDF. Any person can wear our colours, but it does not mean they are UDF,” Ndanga said.
Omar was elected Muluzi’s vice at a convention which took place in October 2012. The decision to expel him was made following recommendations of a disciplinary committee after charges of forming parallel structures.
A few months ago, UDF supporters in Mangochi ignored Muluzi and Local Government Minister, Kondwani Nankhumwa’s calls at a public rally for the supporters to sit and sing together. They insisted that they did not recognise their union.
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