UDF gets tough on Atupele, Matola

The message coming from opposition United Democratic Front (UDF) is clear. Come next sitting of National Assembly the party expects all its 15 members to relocate back to opposition benches.

This follows a National Executive Committee (NEC) meeting the party held in Blantyre where it was observed that the party is steadily losing its structures courtesy of its working relationship with the governing Peoples Party (PP).

As a result, the party agreed to walk out of the working partnership in parliament so that it invests its time and resources on rebuilding the melting structures.

Revert to opposition

And speaking to MIJ FM’s Democracy Forumprogram, UDF deputy spokesperson Ken Ndanga reiterated the party’s call for its legislators to revert to opposition benches.

Atupele: In cabinet but remains UDF member

“All our Members of Parliament are being asked to go back to opposition benches…at our recent meeting we discussed a number of critical issues and one of them was the reviewing of our relationship with ruling PP where we discovered that the working partnership has left the UDF at a big disadvantage so we want to reverse all that,” said Ndanga.

Asked by presenter of the program Innocent Mphongolo on why the UDF decided to join the government in the first place, Ndanga said the main reason was to help President Mrs. Joyce Banda assume what he called ‘seamless transition.’

Ndanga further added that the UDF’s mission has since been accomplished as the President has stamped her authority as such it is now incumbent upon the former ruling party to start putting its house in order in readiness for 2014 polls.

“We are a party that belongs to the people so we always take heed of what our members are saying.

“But as we are heading towards general elections there is a lot of politicking so as UDF we don’t want to be seen frustrating the government’s development agenda that’s why we have thought it wise to give JB and her PP  [space] to govern,” added Ndanga.

Meanwhile, commenting on reports that some PP officials have been going around telling UDF supporters that the two parties merged, Ndanga refused to draw the issue as one of the main reasons behind the surprise divorce.

“We are aware that our friends in PP have been telling our supporters that UDF was swallowed by PP, as a party we have actually treated such reports as part of politics hence we did not want to make it one of the reasons for our parting ways,” he said.

Atupele, Matola fate

On fate of the party’s two MPs serving in president Banda’s cabinet, the youthful spokesperson spoke tough, saying he expects all UDF parliamentarians including Atupele Muluzi and Ibrahim Matola to abide by the order.

Muluzi is Economic Planning minister and has been tasked with engineering government’s Economic Recovery Plan (ERP) while Matola is the deputy minister of Climate Change and Environment.

However, Ndanga was quick to point out that the party has no authority to ask the two popular politicians to stand down from their portfolios saying, “That is a personal decision, in fact their fate is in the hands of the President who has the prerogative to hire and fire a minister.”

PP yet to be written

Meanwhile, the PP says it expects its ally to communicate the issue in writing, according to the ruling party’s spokesperson Hophmally Makande.

The UDF executive meeting, according to Ndanga, was attended by 50 members including Muluzi and was chaired by its secretary general Kennedy Makwangwala.

The move by UDF to walk out of the unity government has drawn mixed reactions with majority of commentators say it is long overdue as the once mighty party was being overshadowed by PP.

While some view this as a vote of no confidence to the PP government and that it is part of resurgence of Muluzi’s ‘change agenda’.

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