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

Mr Gwanda Chakuamba (2003)

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Monday, April 28, 2008

Cassim Chilumpha's reaction to UDF's undemocratic convention

Vice President Cassim Chilumpha has described
Thursday’s UDF national convention as not being free and fair, arguing
that the organisers gave national chairman Bakili Muluzi unfair
advantage by allowing him to address the delegates for more than one
hour as well as allowing Lucius Banda to sing praise songs for the
former head of state, among other reasons.

Chilumpha, in an interview at his official Mudi residence in
Blantyre about two hours after being defeated by Muluzi by 1,950 votes
to 38, said the organisers should have given him equal opportunity or
"at least five minutes to greet the delegates."

Looking relaxed and accompanied by managers of his campaign, Yusuf
Matumula and Rashid Nembo, the soft spoken Vice President said the
organisers failed in their duty by allowing UDF followers [and Lucius
Banda’s Zembani Band] to play songs praising his opponent throughout
the convention.

"There are things I think we should have done better as a party. We
have failed democracy. I don’t think it was fair to allow people
singing songs praising one contestant. There were things the party
should have done better. If I were the organiser, I wouldn’t have
allowed some of those things to happen," Chilumpha said.

The Vice President said he did not appear anywhere on the programme, adding it was not his wish not to address his followers.

"In democracy and where two or more people are competing, you level
the playing field, but giving my opponent more than one hour to address
delegates, that can’t be democracy," he said.

From the word go, it was clear Chilumpha was
out of the race and it needed one with courage to remain in the hall to
challenge Muluzi.

Master of ceremonies Hophmally Makande poured praises on Muluzi in
his opening remarks, saying he had contributed K16 million to the
convention and a lot more to make the hall beautifully decorated.

There were calendars with Muluzi’s portrait on them as well as pens
written "Dr Bakili Muluzi" being distributed to everyone in the hall.

-Main story carried in The Nation Newspaper

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