"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, April 23, 2008

Chilumpha threatens pullout


16:11:58 - 23 April 2008

The lines of contest at the United Democratic Front (UDF) convention tomorrow are now drawn.

But they are not definite yet until Vice-President Cassim Chilumpha’s
lawyers make a decision following reports of harassment and
intimidation against those that support him.

Chilumpha addressed the press Tuesday at his official Mudi residence in Blantyre.

He said his conviction told him he was going to the convention not to
lose but to win, through a legitimate and democratic process.

But Chilumpha said he was not going to participate in a process that is a farce.

He said the party was intimidating his followers, a development that could make the convention not free and fair.

The Vice-President reported the case of Elliam Chidati, who UDF has
reportedly sacked from his position as governor for Ntcheu, because of
his loyalty to him.

Apparently, that means Chidati might not be allowed to go and vote at the convention.

But UDF denied Tuesday that Chidati has been removed from his position.

Secretary General Kennedy Makwangwala said

Chidati has instead been promoted to regional committee member and he would go to the convention.

Makwangwala also said the party has “hired the police, not the young democrats” for security.

However, Chidati confirmed having been removed and replaced by his
former deputy. He said he has not received a letter or word of
promotion from the party, adding this means he would not be allowed at
the convention.

The Vice-President added that some of his supporters have been fetched
out of their houses and ferried to UDF Secretariat where they were
drilled to speak ill of Chilumpha.

“I believe in democracy in its totality. Don’t give me half or quarter
democracy. We will be seeking a legal opinion this afternoon
[yesterday]. If there are going to be more question marks, then I will
not want to be part of the process that is faulty from the beginning.
That would be a farce and some of us don’t like circuses,” he said.

It is not clear how that would be, may be through an injunction or his
complete withdrawal from the race. That would depend on the advice from
the lawyers, he said.

There have been reports that some people who endorsed Muluzi’s form also approved his, which he submitted on March 26.

Chilumpha said he did not understand how this could come about.

According to the Vice-President, the returning officer for the convention checks every detail before the form is accepted.

He felt these tactics would initiate a process that would deprive the legitimacy the convention deserves.

“These things start small. The situation that we have in Zimbabwe and
Kenya did not come as they are. They started small. They are a seed
that was planted by people who wanted to manipulate the election
process. I did not join this race on those terms but for democracy,
practical democracy. And democracy is not one way,” said the

As to why he has been quiet while his competitor has been on the
campaign trail, Chilumpha said Muluzi was only performing his duty as
leader of the party preparing the country for the conference and the
election next year.

He said there are going to be 2,000 delegates at the convention and
Muluzi would readily access them without addressing public rallies.

“Besides, there is no point of operating in competition with Dr Muluzi
as that would generate heat, controversy and factionalism.”

Chilumpha said his position was already a difficult one because he was
the country’s Vice-President and this would be “the most inappropriate
time” and “not sensible” for him to go about contradicting Muluzi.

Neither has he been insubordinate to the party and Muluzi for not
attending party national executive meetings and Muluzi’s rallies. He
said being UDF member did not mean he would attend every other meeting.

He said being Vice-President of this country did not mean he was a personal assistant of leader of the party.

But Chilumpha explained that he would work with Muluzi if he loses the
election legitimately. He also expects Muluzi to work with him should
Muluzi lose the election.

Chilumpha’s decision to contest at the convention against Muluzi has been received with indignation by some party seniors.

Makwangwala once said the party had allowed Chiulmpha to contest so
that he “can face the music” and learn how politicians destroy their

In his reaction, Chilumpha said yesterday this was an unfortunate
comment, adding that he was not bitter with all those that have been
attacking him.

“I leave my life free of malice and hate against anyone. I don’t wake
up planning to exact vengeance on anyone. I live my life quietly.”

He was subjected to grievous attacks in the past 10 years, he said, but he has not gotten out of the situation any worse.

“I am not such a weakling that I would dissolve and become inconsistent
because people are getting personal with me. The more people attack me,
the stronger I become. If they keep on attacking me, then what can I

The Vice-President, who referred to himself as a passionate believer in
democracy, said this country needed to strengthen democracy or there
would be no national prosperity.

According to him, democracy creates a free environment, which allows
people the freedom to use their abilities to create wealth.

What about his treason case? Chilumpha said this does not mean anything yet.

“We all know that we will die one day. But do we stop building a house
and planning what we would do with our lives? There is no certainty on
these issues. I consider it as one of the things that might or might
not happen.

“After all, I am not the first. Kwame Nkruma [of Ghana] was elected
president while he was in prison. Zuma is in the same situation. So was
the case with former president Dr Kamuzu Banda.”

Chilumpha said he had not decided to contest out of his own decision.
People in the UDF consulted him noting that no one was coming forth
when the taskforce had fought for and secured competition at the

He said it would have been arrogant for him to refuse what people
wanted him to do. Choosing to be a politician means that one has to act
according to the will of the people, he said.

He said the same people would choose who they want without any reference to how much money a particular candidate has.

“Money is important but it is not the only factor. In our convention in
2003, all the positions except that of the presidential candidate were
grabbed by people who did not have much money,” he said.

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