"It's shameful that the UDF party wants to take us back to the dark days,"

Mr Gwanda Chakuamba (2003)

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Wednesday, March 19, 2008

UDF should walk the talk on democracy

By The Daily Times - 19 March 2008 - 16:59:01

The move by the United Democratic Front (UDF) to grab a utility vehicle from its senior regional official for the Centre because the man allegedly supports a party presidential hopeful, smacks of paying lip service to the ideals of democracy.

UDF deputy regional governor for the Centre, Mr Kudontoni, is said to have been summoned to BCA Hill in Blantyre to meet his boss, Bakili Muluzi, where he was told to leave the party vehicle as punishment for supporting Noordeen Uladi.

Uladi has been collecting signatures to support his nomination as a presidential contender. But Muluzi and other UDF officials believe the man is a front for Vice-President Cassim Chilumpha.

Kudontoni’s ordeal is reminiscent of two former UDF ofificials, namely, Ackim Ntaja, a former Chiradzulu district UDF governor and a Thyolo district governor who were also stripped of their official vehicles for allegedly not being loyal to the leadership. Old habits really die hard.

The punishment exacted on Kudontoni shows UDF did not wholeheartedly allow Uladi to contest against Muluzi. And this is exactly what former UDF publicity secretary Sam Mpasu meant when he said it was not enough just to say the party had opened up the contest to other members without changing the mindset of all other party cadres from regional ranks down to the constituency level.

Mpasu said there was need to ensure the party’s rank and file fully bought into the concept of democracy and its real meaning.

Democracy, among other things, accommodates tolerance of divergent views; it embraces freedom of association and allows a cocktail of ideas and views, which in turn realise informed decisions. Thus a party that professes to be democratic cannot at the same time be expected to hound its members when they want to exercise their democratic rights in whatever way.

But the other main problem UDF is suffering from is that it is more or less like a property of its national chairman. This is because apart from the parliamentary funding it receives, the party is solely funded and owned by Muluzi.

The result is that anyone holding different views from those of the financier is seen as not being loyal to the party; he or she is a rebel and therefore not fit to be in the party’s mainstream administration.

In a democracy, the party is supposed to be stronger than the strongest man in it. Unfortunately, that is not true with most political parties in the country. Maybe one day we will get there hoping that we have laid a firm foundation for the growth of democracy.

For the meantime we despise the undemocratic tendencies in UDF. The party should walk the talk on democracy.

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