Mtafu withdraws from UDF elections: Jumbe boycotts

Dr George Nga Mtafu on Tuesday withdrew his candidature for United Democratic Front (UDF) National Chairman post.

Mtafu said he could not contest when it was clear that  son of former president, Atupele Muluzi was heading for victory.

Victor Mbewe – who had filled nomination papers for position of Director of Economic Planning -did not turn up as he is currently chairman of the board of directors for state-owned Malawi Savings Bank (MSB) but was elected director of economic affairs unopposed in absentia.

Meanwhile, the one who was acting leader Friday Jumbe, and other prominent party members Sam Mpasu and  Ziliro Chibambo boycotted the indaba.

Friday Jumbe (Left) boycottet while Dr Nga Ntafu withdrew from the race and stayed away

Jumbe told Zodiak radio when convention was underway that they will   disclose their next course of action after the indaba.

There are reports that Jumbe led a group of 15 people in his faction to Sanjika Palace where they were introduced to PP executive that they are “part and parcel of the PP.”

Reports indicate they were remaining in UDF as “spoilers”.

Convention highlight

Just like it occurred on his arrival at the convention venue, Atupele Muluzi stole the show again when he was given a chance to market himself.

First to step onto the podium was Moses Tobias Dossi who briefly underlined what he would do once elected to lead the party that first ruled democratic Malawi for over 10 years.

Next was Atupele, the son of the party’s founding member who also led the country between 1994 and 2004, Bakili Muluzi.

Just after the director of ceremonies called his name to come on stage, the audience ruptured into ululation and hand clapping while others chanted chair, chair, chair.

However, Muluzi dropped a bombshell to the enthusiastic audience when he stayed on the stage for just two minutes.

After his salutation and self introduction, Muluzi only said he was a staunch believer of the ideals of democracy and would liberally accept the outcome of the convention.

“I believe in democracy and would accept which ever way the results would go,” Muluzi told the attentive audience before leaving the stage without touching on his manifesto.

Ruth Takomana, the current Deputy Director of Research in the party was the last to come on stage in which she said time had now come for UDF followers to elect a woman and “see light.”

Earlier in the day, the young Muluzi who is Minister of Economic Planning and Development in the People’s Party (PP) led administration also got wild cheers welcome as he arrived at the venue as compared to his two opponents.

Muluzi, who turned up just before 10:30 hours on private vehicle was greeted with ecstasy mostly from the animated youth UDF supporters.

And upon entering the conference hall almost the entire audience rose to its feet to have a glimpse of the dazzling and mostly reserved youthful politician.

Almost 5 000 UDF followers converged at the Chichiri Trade Fair show ground in the commercial city of Blantyre for the long awaited national convention which was being held under theme “Put People First, UDF’s Agenda.”

The show ground was swarmed by the yellow supporters drawn from all the four political regions of North, Centre, Eastern and South.

However, just above 2500 (out of which 2367 were eligible voters) were allowed entry inside COMESA Hall.

Representatives of other local parties like the ruling PP, former ruling Democratic Progressive Party (DPP), another former ruling and also the country’s oldest political party Malawi Congress (MCP), Alliance for Democracy (AFORD) and Peoples Progressive Movement (PPM) were also present.

There was also a delegation from Mozambique’s RENAMO party and UDF officials from Zambia, Tanzania and South Africa.

Chairperson of the convention organising committee Lilian Patel said the party had elected an independent electoral commission to oversee the voting process.

The founding leader of the party Bakili Muluzi, currently in South Africa on medical trip, also took advantage of the conference to officially announce his retiring from active politics after over 40 years of service.

The flamboyant Muluzi conveyed his message of retirement through a speech led by his lawyer Kalekeni Kaphale.

UDF becomes the second largest party to hold a convention this year after the ruling PP two months ago.

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