Trouble is brewing in the United Democratic Front (UDF) as some members that are aligned to a faction of parliamentarian Lucius Banda are calling for the ouster of party leader Atupele Muluzi, accusing him of killing he party and allowing it to be swallowed by the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) .
The group are discussing the matter even on their Whatsapp group which Lucius Banda is also included.
Speaking on behalf of the group confirming their call for Atupele to resign, Charles Joshi told Times Radio that they want Atupele to leave the party and he continue serving his interests in government.
Atupele has, since the DPP victory in the 2014 elections, been the only UDF and opposition member in APM’s 20-member Cabinet.
DPP did not enter into negotiations with UDF as a party. Rather, the offer was to Atupele and it was made on the heels of reported talks between President Peter Mutharika and Atupele’s father, former president Bakili Muluzi.
“We want to make UDF strong but we cannot do that when the party is working with DPP,” said Joshi who failed to win parliamentary seat in Blantyre on UDF ticket during the 2014 polls.
UDF spokesman Ken Ndanga said he could not comment on the matter because the calls were not coming from its rank and file.
“The party has its structures and we communicate our political objectives to the rank and file. Our members will always be briefed on our goals,” he said.
Since the dawn of multiparty democracy in 1994 UDF was by far the largest political party in Malawi before its then president, Bakili Muluzi took a wrong turn in the succession path.
UDF, together with Alliance for Democracy (Aford), were popular during the transition from one party State to multiparty democracy and the won the 1994 general elections defeating Malawi Congress Party (MCP), proceeded to win another general election in 1999 and bagged 91 seats in Parliament.
The genesis of UDF’s problems date back to around 2003 when Bakili started agitating for a third term and later open terms, which flopped in Parliament where legislators narrowly rejected it.
He thus proceeded to court and eventually plucked a failed politician at the time—Bingu wa Mutharika—from political oblivion, first installing him as Deputy Governor of the Reserve Bank of Malawi (RBM) then Economic Planning and Development Minister and then he was the UDF torch-bearer in 2004.
Mutharika’s candidacy weakened UDF as senior figures strated leaving the party–mostly to form their own—after Muluzi refused to entertain healthy competition in the party for the presidency as he opsted for his handpicked successor Bingu.
Amongst those who quit UDF were then State vice president Justin Malewezi a few months before the end of the presidential term and went ahead to launch a failed bid in May 2004 as an independent presidential candidate.
Party vice president Aleke Banda also left the party and joined f People’s Progressive Movement (PPM).
Lhomwe belt influential politican Brown Mpinganjira left to form his National Democratic Alliance (NDA) and later returned to UDF.
Lower Shire heavy weight Harry Thomson also quit.Follow and Subscribe Nyasa TV :