UDF ditches Joyce Banda government
Opposition United Democratic Front (UDF) has finally written Speaker of the National Assembly, Henry Chimunthu Banda, asking him to relocate the party's Members of Parliament to opposition benches in the House.
UDF Leader in the House Clement Chiwaya and Secretary General Kennedy Makwangwala confirmed the development yesterday.
And a political analyst has since commented that this new development makes untenable the presence of UDF MPs who are in President Joyce Banda's government.
Two MPs Atupele Muluzi and Ibrahim Matola are Minister of Economic Planning and Deputy Minister of Environment and Climate Change, respectively.
All UDF MPs have since been sitting on the government side in the House.
Makwangwala confirmed he had authored the letter and said the party has asked the Speaker to produce a new sitting plan re-locating the party's MPs to opposition benches.
He said the decision was final and said it affected all UDF members, including Muluzi who previously insisted that he would not leave government.
On his part, Chiwaya said: "We have written the Speaker through the Secretary General to re-locate us back to the opposition. When Parliament reconvenes, all UDF MPs will no longer be sitting on government benches."
Makwangwala said the party was leaving the government because it does not want to be "swallowed" by another party.
"Our position is clear, we are in a democracy and we are a party of our own; we don't want to be swallowed by another party. All UDF MPs including Atupele should adhere to this," said Makwangwala, refusing to be drawn on what Muluzi would face if he defied the directive.
Leader of the House Henry Phoya and People's Party (PP) Deputy Publicity Secretary Ken Nsonda said they were yet to receive communication from the UDF on the decision.
However, Phoya urged UDF to engage government on the issue to iron out any misunderstandings.
"We are not in receipt of the letter and until we do so it's difficult to comment.
"However, our position is that we are still in a working relationship following the agreement that brought the two sides together and we hope in the spirit of that agreement, we expect them to inform us on any new decision they have made," Phoya added.
While commenting on the economy, President Banda told a gathering at Balaka on Sunday that Atupele had alerted her that he would be attending the UDF convention after he had returned from International Monetary Fund (IMF) annual meetings in Japan.
The president did not comment further on her meeting with Atupele.
Atupele's phone went unanswered on several attempts on Sunday and yesterday. He could also not respond to text messages sent to his mobile phone.
Last month, Makwangwala alleged that Matola had joined the governing PP as he had been spotted wearing the party's colours.
Reacting to these developments, Chancellor College political analyst Blessings Chinsinga said UDF's relocation from the government benches will make Atupele's position in government untenable.
He described the situation as the climax of UDF confusion, considering also that it comes at the time the UDF is holding a convention where Atupele is contesting for the position of chairperson.
"This is now the climax of the confusion that has rocked the party. Atupele will be contesting this Tuesday as UDF Chairperson and do you expect him to be doing contrary to what the party he will be leading is saying?
"The situation leaves him in a very problematic situation but this is something the UDF has calculated. They discussed this at length and they are up to something. Atupele should be aware of what exactly is going on," he said.
He added that this vindicates previous observations that the agreement was not between the parties, but individuals.