Tonse Alliance meets to sort out UTM demands for ‘fair representation’

The Tonse Alliance – a coalition of nine opposition parties which successfully ousted Peter Mutharika and the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) in the June 23, 2020 fresh presidential election – met on Thursday in a closed meeting at Chikoko Bay, in Mangochi; and, Nyasa Times understands that principal among the items that were discussed was how UTM’s demands of “fair share of representation” would be dealt with.

Tonse partners meet in Mangochi.

UTM Party led by vice president, Dr Saulos Chilima, is reportedly alleged to have given President Lazarus Chakwera and the Malawi Congress Party (MCP) hierarchy until June 19 2021 to meet its fair share of representation or risk breaking away.

A highly respected British fortnightly newsletter, Africa Confidential, whose reporting and analysis is valued and relied upon by a wide range of influential organizations and individuals, reports that UTM has given an ultimatum to MCP to meet its demands by 19 June or break away.

The African Confidential in its Volume 62 No 11 reports: “The UTM has given the MCP until 19 June, we hear, to meet its demands for better representation or they will leave the governing alliance.”

Chilima, and Chakwera pose with MCP and UTM secretary generals ahead of Tonse Alliance summit on Thursday.

Before the grand meeting on Thursday, Chakwera and Chilima, joined by their parties’ secretary-generals – Eisenhower Mkaka and Patricia Kaliati respectively – met on Wednesday ahead of the rest of the Alliance Partners’ summit the following morning.

“The fact that the two met first in absence of the other nine tells a big story. It means that the other partners do not matter at all, and are simply an escort the two [MCP and UTM] might not need sooner than later,” said Jackson Msiska, a social commentator.

The two parties have been arguing over appointments to top jobs with each partner accusing the other of hogging the best jobs.

A recent approval of the much sought-after diplomatic appointments confirmed by the Public Appointments Committee (PAC) of Parliament saw Margaret Kamoto – mother to Chilima’s wife, Mary – being sent to head the Malawi mission in Lusaka, Zambia.

Analysts say it is the beginning of meeting UTM demands.

Commenting on the summit, journalist Idriss Ali Nassar said: “Once I saw [Professor John] Chisi, Kamuzu Chibambo and many of those hangers-on whose presence doesn’t register on the political Richter Scale, I knew nothing would come out of that summit.

“The serious issues of contention are between MCP and UTM. It is those two, alone, who should be fixated on fixing things.”

Joshua Chisa Mbele, a renowned social commentator said: “We are waiting for outcomes. I also have serious reservations.”

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