Opposition United Democratic Front (UDF) will have an open leadership contest during the party’s national convention scheduled for August 1 in Blantyre ahead of next year’s tripartite elections, incumbent leader Atupele Muluzi has said.
The UDF president has said any member aspiring to contest for any position including that of a president at the party elective national conference should be allowed to do so in line with the democratic principles which the party stands for.
Atupele as he is fondly called said this on Sunday at Area 23 police ground in Lilongwe when he addressed a political mass rally.
Speaking to thousands of party supporters and members, Atupele of the ‘Ung’ono-ung’ono’ brand or ‘Ukiti Ukiti’, said the UDF party is a champion of democracy in Malawi and should always lead by example when it comes to intra party democracy.
“We are a democratic party and we should lead by example in the way we conduct our business. This party is for all of you members,” he said.
So far on the presidency, it looks to be a two horse race between Atupele and Balaka North legislator Lucius Banda as the two go head-to head for the golden crown in the party.
Atupele welcomed Banda’s challenge, saying as a party member he was free to contest for the position, saying that is what democracy is all about.
Atupele said after the convention in August, the party will consult widely on issues to be concluded in the party manifesto for 2019 elections.
He pledged that as a leader he will make sure that women and the youth in the party are not only followers but “active participants” who should hold influential positions at the top hierarchy of the party.
The UDF president said women and the youth have always been at the centre of party organisation and it’s high time they are recognised.
Muluzi, who is turning 40 this year, said he was hopeful UDF will win the 2019 Tripartite Elections.
As of responding to his critics the young Muluzi said the UDF party is” a movement born out of a clear agenda and will never be killed by anybody”.
Atupele said he believes in an economy that creates jobs for the youths, and properly management of public resources for the benefit of all Malawians.
He said the fruits of the country’s economic growth must be enjoyed by all Malawians regardless of religion, tribe or where they come from.
The rally was attended by Senior party members which included Dr. Godfrey Chapola his 2014 runningmate, Second Deputy Speaker of National Assembly Dr. Clement Chiwaya, veteran politician Clement Stambuli and others.
Chancellor College-based political analyst Mustafa Hussein has since welcomed the development in UDF, saying the convention will provide an opportunity to clarify major concerns of some of the party’s members.
“People have great expectation of UDF because it is a mother party. It needs to clarify whether the party will stand on its own or will have an alliance with the ruling DPP [Democratic Progressive Party],” he said.
Atupele, who heads the UDF, is Minister of Health in the DPP-led government.
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