Atupele Muluzi is the new chairman of UDF, others cry foul
Atupele Muluzi has been voted as United Democratic Front (UDF) National Chairperson, as widely expected. This makes him the automatic presidential candidate for the party in the 2014 general elections, according to party's amended constitution.
Businessman Iqbar Omar, populary known as M'nthandizi(helper), has been voted first national vice chairperson.
Muluzi, son to former president Bakili Muluzi, won with more than 2000 votes, beating two contenders, Moses Dossi and Mrs Ruth Takumana.
There was a din in the COMESA Hall in Blantyre after Muluzi was announced as the winner on the night of Tuesday, Oct 30.
In other positions: Lilian Patel was voted National Organizing Secretary with Howard Kananji as her deputy. Kandi Padambo was voted Secretary General and will be deputized by Gerald Mponda.
The Second Vice Chair is Victoria Mponela and she will be representing the north. Third national chair is Charles Chikuwo, representing the south. Mr Omar is representing the centre.
Austine Kajiso Gondwe was voted treasurer general; Foster Mtangama, vice treasurer.
Immediately after his election Muluzi told Zodiak he will work towards 'building a United Democratic Front'. He was referring to the fact the party went ahead to hold the convention despite opposition from a rival faction which boycotted.
Muluzi is minister of economic planning in the Joyce Banda administration. It remains to be whether he will maintain his ministerial position.
Earlier, observers said the convention had the potential to either build bridges or further widen hostilities in the party.
The convention came at a time the party has been rocked in continued wrangles for leadership positions since 2009 when its former national chairman who is also the country’s former president Muluzi resigned from active politics.
Among the big fall-outs is Kennedy Makwangwala who has lost to Padambo on the position secretary general.
The convention cost some K 35 million amid allegations that it largely sponsored by Dr Muluzi to woe support for his son. He denied the allegations.
the former Malawi leader was last week quoted by Zodiak saying “the -UDF national convention is the only way out of the leadership crisis that has rocked party for several years now”.
The crisis started when Mr. Friday Jumbe, the party’s active president for three years now was handpicked by Dr. Muluzi to act as president in 2009 when the latter quit politics.
Two camps emerged in the course. The other, led by Jumbe, has been critical of Dr Muluzi saying he is advancing his son’s political agenda by funding the party.
The other camp, led by Makwangwala, has been siding with Dr Muluzi's son citing the need for ‘new blood’ to run the party which initiated Malawi’s democratic transition from autocracy in 1994.
However, the significance of the indaba and its potential to bring change is likely to be overshadowed by boycott of the Jumbe camp