Decades of Aford’s political woes: One party in two marriages

Chakufwa Tom Chihana is revered for being the first Malawian to openly challenge Malawi Congress Party (MCP) and Hastings Kamuzu Banda’s autocratic rule and April 6 1992 he flew into Malawi from the diaspora to kickstart pro-democracy campaign.

Mwenifumbo addressing a UDF campaign launch as running mate to Atupele Muluzi
Aford’s Dan Msowoya greets UDF presidential candidate Atupele Muluzi
Mwenifumbo speaking at the UDF mANIFESTO LAUNCH -Pic by Roy Nkosi
Mwenifumbo  with Atupele Muluzi at UDF manifesto and campaign launch
Mwenifumbo (l) flashed Aford victory sign while Atupele shows UDF’s clasped hands sign
Enock Chihana and his wife Tadala: Aford in allince with UTM
Chakufwa Tom Chihana is a name that is associated with multiparty politics of Malawi

The ex-trade unionist, through an underground movement, spoke out of the time for Malawi to start multiparty democracy as opposed to single party dictatorship.

Despite coming third during Malawi’s first General Elections in 1994, opposition Alliance for Democracy (AFORD) under Chihana scooped all 33 parliamentary seats in the northern region.

To put an icing on the cake, it further managed to get three more seats from the central region.

Just as United Democratic Front (UDF) and MCP were indisputably the strongest parties in the southern and central regions, respectively, AFORD was a face for the northern region.

In the elections, Chihana amassed 18.9 percent of the total votes which saw Bakili Muluzi of UDF becoming an eventual winner.

1999 tale: so close yet so far away

In the second general elections in 1999, still oozing with the 1994 elections confidence, AFORD did not field a presidential candidate, but rather opted to join forces with MCP to unseat UDF.

AFORD’s Chihana became running mate to Gwanda Chakwamba in the alliance.

The results, however, were disappointing as UDF defeated the MCP/AFORD alliance by collecting 52.38 percent against the alliance’s 45.17 percent of the total votes.

AFORD came out scathed as it lost its grip on the northern region. It lost seven of its 36 seats won in 1994. This was the genesis of the fall of the once mighty AFORD.

2002: Chihana’s loss of direction

After the 1999 defeat, AFORD’s leader Chihana, walked out of the MCP alliance and mutually agreed with President Bakili Muluzi to work together in a UDF/AFORD alliance.

Eventually, Chihana was appointed second vice-president of Malawi in 2002.

The decision by Chihana to go into an alliance with UDF did not go well with some AFORD senior members who argued that the alliance would benefit a few members of the party.

Subsequently, the disgruntled members later broke away from AFORD and formed the Movement for Genuine Democracy (Mgode).

Slowly, AFORD was heading for disaster in that later, during 2004 general elections, the party got six MPs only.

This clearly showed that even people from the northern region had lost hope in the party. Independent MP’s dominated the region.

2005: Chakufwa Chihana’s demise and the rise of Enoch

In 2005, still smarting from the 2004 parliamentary elections defeat, the party was dealt a huge blow when its leader Chakufwa Chihana died on June 17 2005.

Dindi Gowa Nyasulu was later elected the party’s president.

The death of Chakufwa, however, paved way for his son Enoch Chihana as he won the by-elections to succeed his late father on the Rumphi Central Constituency parliamentary seat.

Enoch was previously a member of the UDF. Under Gowa Nyasulu, the party tried to reorganize itself but serious infighting still dogged the party’s progress.

In the 2009 elections, the party opted to take a go on the presidential elections but with completely little success as its candidate Gowa Nyasulu amassed 0.45 percent of the total votes.

2013: Enoch takes over and power struggle ensues

At its 2013 convention, Enoch, who was slowly gaining ground in AFORD’s fold, was elected the party’s president.

In the 2014 tripartite elections, the party got a single seat from the Rumphi Central Constituency where Enoch, himself, won.

After the elections, Karonga Central Constituency independent MP Frank Mwenifumbo rejoined AFORD.

“I have come back to this party in order to help it regain its lost glory.

“We need to return where we belong as a party. We need to revamp AFORD,” Mwenifumbo told people when he was welcomed in the party.

He subsequently crisscrossed the country mobilising people, who had left the party, to come back.

Many people believed that the party would soon be back on its heels as Enoch and Mwenifumbo embarked on a campaign dubbed ‘Revamp AFORD’, as the strongest party in the region.

However, Mwenifumbo later started pressing Enoch to call for an elective convention.

Mwenifumbo argued that the national executive committee’s mandate had expired according to the party’s constitution.

But Enoch argued that the party had no money to finance the convention.

Deep in Mwenifumbo’s mind, however, was ambition to become the party’s president. Battle lines were now clearly drawn between him and Enoch.

Their struggle later came to a climax in 2018 when they held two parallel conventions where each was elected president.

The two then sought court’s intervention on who was the legitimate president of the party.

Court adjournments were the older of the day. Each of the two leaders vowed never to give up on the presidency.

As all this drama was on show, time was not on the party’s side since the 2019 tripartite elections kept nearing.

Towards the end of 2018, Mwenifumbo surprised the nation when he told journalists that he had finally given up on the AFORD presidency and was recognising Enoch as the party’s legitimate leader.

It looked as if the party ended the year in unity.

2019: one party in two marriages?

On February 7, 2019, Enoch surprised many when he, together with former State President Joyce Banda, announced that they had entered an electoral partnership with Vice-President Saulos Chilima of United Transformation Movement (UTM).

Enoch said his party would not field a presidential candidate but rather render support to UTM’s candidate, Chilima.

“AFORD will go flat out to campaign for Dr Chilima in order for him to be president of the Republic of Malawi. AFORD believes Dr Chilima is the only candidate who can help develop this country.

“Above all, we share similar vision with UTM,” Chihana told the media after striking a deal with UTM to go into an electoral alliance.

Enoch said, subsequently, AFORD would mobilise its supporters to vote for Chilima and UTM.

The new arrangement was further cemented when Enoch accompanied by some AFORD followers were seen at COMESA hall in Blantyre during Chilima’s presentation of his nomination papers to Malawi Electoral Commission (MEC).

Twenty four hours later, more drama unfolded when UDF’s presidential candidate Atupele Muluzi unveiled AFORD’s Mwenifumbo as his running mate in the tripartite elections.

Speaking at UDF northern region headquarters in Mzuzu during a briefing to the UDF and AFORD members in the north about his choice as running mate to Muluzi, Mwenifumbo urged supporters to vote for UDF.

“Muluzi has set aside many development projects to be done in the north; so I urge you all to vote for UDF during May 21 tripartite elections,” he said.

Meanwhile, University of Livingstonia political analyst George Phiri argues that it is AFORD that is losing out. He says the party is confusing its followers on which party to vote for.

“I can even predict more disaster for AFORD in the parliamentary elections as the party clearly shows lack of direction and leadership.

“A party cannot have two of its camps campaigning for two different presidential candidates.

“In the end, it’s the voters who will be confused as some will end up voting for UTM or UDF MPs as there is no clear direction for AFORD,” Phiri says.

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Gona pa Muhanya
Guest
Gona pa Muhanya

Eeeeee Mbuzi za kumwelanu kwa kuba, kupha, chiwerewere, ndi kuwonga dziko lino ngati liri pa mavuto ndi chifukwa cha inu. You rightly say Mtumbuka sanga lamulire ndiye mwapangapo chiyani mdziko muno. zisiru za anthu kupusa

Yasser Arafat Hamdani
Guest
Yasser Arafat Hamdani

Atumbuka dhyera awa. The only close similarity is to them is the bat with both teeth as a mammal and wings as a bird. AFORD in alliance with UDF, and AFORD in alliance with UDF. One foot in a sugar bowl and the second foot in a flour basket -:and no shame.

mtete
Guest
mtete

Remind me please. Which came first, Pastoral Letter or Chihana?

mtete
Guest
mtete

Remind me please m Which came first, Pastoral Letter or Chihana?

Mchawa
Guest

Mtumbuka can not win the presidency…too nepotistic.

Also too much chinkulirano in Aford. Look, Mwenefumbo is with UDF and Chihana is with UTM and they both say that they are representing Aford really? Isn’t that total madness inu akumpoto?

Kala
Guest
Kala

It’s madness but these two don’t represent the north! Why don’t you call Atupele mad? In some alliance with DPP and running for President! You hate the north fokofu

Jyumani jyumani
Guest
Jyumani jyumani

Chihana had no principles. Too greedy and very nepotistic. Thank God we he didn’t win in 1994.

Bene Aford
Guest
Bene Aford

and who has principles? He dodnt win and now you enjoy 24 hours of electricity, your hospitals are well stocked with medicines, you have good roads all over the country, security is good, no beggars in the cities! Serves your ego well! Fokofu!

youna
Guest
youna

True. Analidi olimba mtima koma ma principles njeee… munalibemo. No wonder anauphonya u president akuuona.

Ungwelu
Guest
Ungwelu

Nooooooooo. This is not true. The real reason is that he came from the North. After noting that Aford was born in Zambia, Muluzi and his cronies from the South hurriedly to put in place a political grouping called UDF. This was to deliberately counter Aford in the numbers Game. Even when we, Malawians, told you (with a picture of prisoner Bakili Muluzi in prison uniform in the Democrat Newspaper) that he was an ardent thief your answer was ——– Wakuba yomweyo – Wakwathu yomweyo. There was nothing about Chihana being nepotistic because he had his top colleagues from the… Read more »

Diago Ken
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Diago Ken

People never be cheated that came in from diaspora, actually he was staying in Area 10 while he was General Secretary for SATUCC (Southern Africa Trade Union Cooperation and he travelled to Zambia for the meeting with the people likes of Mainga Mkandawire, Atati Mpakati, Mapopa Chipeta, Meke Mtewa etc

Bene Aford
Guest
Bene Aford

How did he travel with Atati who was killed in 1983? Late Mayinga was living in exile in Zambia. Meke was living in the US. Abit of google may help you mbuli and Aford hater!

Achapwere 1
Guest
Achapwere 1

that’s party osimosis kkkkkkkkkkkk tizigwira chaka chake ndi chino

Bene Aford
Guest
Bene Aford

Chihana died on 12 June 2006 not 2005.