UDF ‘civil war’continues to brew, Jumbe hits back

Accusations and counter-accusations continue to rock the former governing United Democratic Front (UDF), with the faction that is led by  acting president Friday Jumbe rubbishing a National Executive Committee (NEC) meeting called by Secretary-General, Kennedy Makwangwala in Blantyre on Sunday, which appointed new people in positions held by officials supporting Jumbe.

On Sunday, Makwangwala, who belongs to the UDF camp that supports Atupele Muluzi’s 2014 presidential bid, accused the likes of Jumbe, Humphrey Mvula, Nicholas Kachingwe, Ziliro Chibambo Deputy Secretary General Hophmally Makande and others of abrogating their party responsibilities and hence their positions offered to other “committed members”.

Atupele is Machinga North-east legislator and son to former Head of State Dr. Bakili Muluzi.

Jumbe: The NEC meetingwas of no consequence

But during a news conference held at his private Superior Hotel in the commercial capital, Blantyre on Monday, Jumbe said the briefing was intended “to let the country know about the important things going on in the UDF, particularly the illegal meeting convened by Makwangwala at the former UDF office in Limbe”.

Jumbe said that Article 14 of the UDF constitution only empowers the UDF Secretary General to “convey” the message about an impending NEC meeting and that the “leader” is the one constitutionally mandated to “convene” a NEC meeting.

He said that the meeting “convened” by the Secretary General was therefore of no consequence.

“It was an illegal meeting; it remains illegal; and it is unrecognized,” Jumbe said, adding that what is even worse is that Makwangwala remains suspended pending his availing before a UDF disciplinary to answer charges of similar nature “which aggravates the illegality of this meeting”.

Jumbe, Finance Minister under Muluzi, said the UDF constitution prescribes only three instances where an official may lose their positions in the party. He explained these are death, resignation and dismissal after a thorough disciplinary process.

“No-one can just wake-up one morning and dismiss a duly elected or appointed leader. This party is resilient and it would not allow such undemocratic tendencies to take root,” said Jumbe, adding that the “Makwangwalas are desperate to clear the way for Atupele because they are aware that if they took the normal route, they would not succeed”.

Jumbe claimed that Makwangwala and his colleagues were working under the armpits of the Muluzi, accusing former president of using all tactics, including the blatant disregard of the UDF constitution to make his son leader and subsequent presidential candidate of the party in 2014.

He said in this particular instance where a meeting was called to dismiss them, the Makwangwalas were taking advantage of the prevailing industrial strike involving Judiciary support staff, which has paralyzed the justice delivery system. But he warned the state of affairs was not permanent and that they would be soon required to account for their “illegal actions”.

Mvula, whose Director of Research position has been apportioned to Leonard Mangulama, reprimanded Makwangwala and colleagues for declaring at their meeting that the UDF does not intend to work with any other opposition parties in a strategic alliance or any other arrangement.

“That has never been the official position of the party; we are committed to work with other like-minded parties; we respect all political parties in Malawi and when entering into any agreement or alliance, we shall do so as equals,” Mvula explained.

Former diplomat Chibambo said the root cause of the current disagreements rocking the party today is that “some people want to continue giving us leaders” and called on the leaders from both camps to unite for the good of the party.

“Let us unite; let’s go to the National Convention where we shall have to allow the people to choose whoever they want to lead them. Let’s not encourage this syndrome of people giving us leaders because it has proved costly before,” Chibambo said, cautioning against money being “a force to decide who becomes a leader”.

“I am crying for unity,” pleaded Chibambo, who said did not harbor any leadership ambitions except for the burning desire to serve his nation.

Apart from Chibambo and Mvula, others who accompanied Jumbe at the press conference were Rashid Nembo, former diplomat Joseph Kubwalo, Makande, a Mr. Nkulichi and Muhammad Kulesi.

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