UDF directs its MPs to leave govt benches
In a dramatic turn of events, Malawi’s opposition United Democratic Front (UDF) has rescinded its decision to sit on government benches in Parliament and directed its parliamentarians to return to opposition benches.
Five months ago, political prostitution became the order of the day as MPs from various parties moved to and fro opposition and government benches in an attempt to strategically position themselves in the new government led by Joyce Banda of People’s Party (PP) following the death of former president Bingu wa Mutharika.
But with the dust finally settled, UDF has realised that the unprecedented move was bent on killing the party and its identity hence the agenda at its meeting of Friday called by its national executive committee (NEC).
Deputy publicity secretary Ken Ndanga said on Saturday the party agreed to strengthen multi-party democracy in the country and have UDF as a separate entity with its own leaders instead of maintaining its identity through PP.
Said Ndanga: “The move is meant to rescue the party from extinction. The meeting was attended by almost all NEC members and MPs who arrived at the decision after chief whip Clement Chiwaya presented concerns from UDF MPs that the party was being overshadowed by PP.
“Regional governors too told the meeting that they had similar reports from people at the grass roots, hence the need to report to NEC for consideration. The decision is, however, in good faith and not necessarily to spite PP.”
Ndanga also said the party decided to hold its national convention on October 31 in Blantyre where all national governing council positions will be up for grabs.
He said notable NEC members that did not attend the meeting included Friday Jumbe, Ziliro Chibambo, Joseph Kubwalo and Muhammed Kulesi. He said Deputy Minister of Environment and Climate Change Management Ibrahim Matola gave an apology but Economic Planning Minister Atupele Muluzi attended.
Chiwaya said UDF MPs experienced confusion in their constituencies following the party’s move to government benches.
Said Chiwaya: “Some PP members were and are still going round telling followers of both parties that UDF joined them, hence, their constituency and area committees should be amalgamated. This has been eating into our support base so a number of UDF MPs met and decided to represent the concerns to NEC because we do not have the power to make party decision”.
PP publicity secretary Hophmally Makande said he could not comment about what seemed to be a speculation that has happened in another party. He opted to wait for official communication first.