"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 07, 2008

Ex-NDA members divide UDF


photograph by

national executive members of the United Democratic Front (UDF) have
described accommodation of former members of the defunct National
Democratic Alliance (NDA) into the party by national chairman Bakili
Muluzi as a big mistake that is posing a threat to the party since the
members tried to kill UDF in 1999.

The Nec members say Muluzi is blind to give such members key party
positions like that of national organising secretary headed by former
NDA president Brown Mpinganjira, deputy secretary general headed by
another former NDA member Hophmally Makande and national working
committee under Harry Thomson.

Makande refused to comment on the matter saying it centred around
him. Mpinganjira also refused to be drawn into an argument but pointed
out to what he felt was a successful performance during his previous
stint in his current position.

The divisions in the party have caused Vice President Cassim
Chilumpha and other Nec members-Rashid Nembo, Yusuf Matumula, Sam Mpasu
and other Eastern Region members of the party to break away from it and
face Muluzi at the convention under the veep’s leadership.

Spokesperson of the Chilumpha camp, Sam Mpasu who was publicity
secretary of the entire party before the division, said in an exclusive
interview on Wednesday it is a big mistake for the party to have at its
helm Mpinganjira, Thomson and Makande whom he described as foreigners
because they have an agenda to promote interests of the defunct NDA by
among other things taking over constituencies manned by UDF MPs.

"And many MPs have to look over their shoulders because some have
ex-NDA competitors coming out very soon against them because the
national organising secretary (Mpinganjira) who was there before and
used that position for personal agenda is doing the same thing again,"
said Mpasu.

Mpasu said UDF had disastrous primary election results in 1999 when
Mpinganjira was national organising secretary in the sense that all
those that were deemed to be his boys were completely undermined by
independents and lost the primaries like Joseph Kubwalo, Edda Chitalo
and George Biliati.

As a result, he said, UDF had a major crisis very early in Muluzi’s
second term which oiled up to a situation where Mpinganjira thought had
sufficient numbers in UDF and could break away and shake Muluzi.

More defections followed, he said, which saw the formation of parties like Petra and Mafunde.

"And some time last year Mpinganjira found himself national
organising secretary again. People wondered how on earth Muluzi could
repeat that mistake when he knows Mpinganjira was a member of a party
that wanted to destroy UDF," he said.

Some of the constituents said to have former NDA challengers are
Zomba Chingale, Mangochi South West, Zomba Lisanjala and Chiradzulu
South East.

"And when he dissolved NDA he brought some of his lieutenants to the
party and there is perception in UDF that just as United Party (UP) was
feared to be taking over UDF when President Bingu wa Mutharika came,
now it is NDA taking over UDF because there are key positions in UDF
manned by ex-NDA people," claimed Mpasu.

Mpasu said there are situations in UDF where some loyal members are
being demoted, removed from regional committees and promoted to Nec
where they will be useless and being replaced by former NDA people at
regional level. He could not give names.

"So, many people in UDF are saying, no, Muluzi is selling the party
again and that is why even Mr. Nembo had to address the gathering at
Zomba like that," he said.

But Mpinganjira said: "It is nice that Mr. Mpasu refers to 1999. As
national organising secretary in 1999, I produced the highest number of
MPs in the history of UDF which has never been repeated."

Asked further questions, Mpinganjira only added: "I am fairly busy
helping Atcheya building the party. I do not want waste time with
unnecessary arguments that will not build the party or the nation."

UDF director of research Humphrey Mvula described Mpasu’s comments
as unfair. He said Mpinganjira, Thomson and Makande were elected at Nec
meetings after the positions fell vacant.

"It would be unfair now to be questioning how these people went into
such positions. Mpinganjira and Thomson and were part of the founding
members of the party and they have come back to their party. It would
be naive for us to look at them as belonging to NDA," Mvula said.

On whether UDF has a policy on who should be a member, the
slow-talking Mvula said the party allows any member that agrees and
abides by objectives, values, policies and democratic principles that
UDF subscribes to. The three, he said, are full members of the party
since they de-registered NDA in 2004.

Political analyst at Chancellor College Mustapha Hussein said
Mpinganjira would not do anything to resuscitate NDA since it was

He said: "NDA was a breakaway of UDF due to the third term issue.
Mpinganjira and other core members were founders of UDF and having gone
back to UDF they are bona fide members."

Another commentator Justin Dzonzi who is chairperson of Human Rights
Consultative Committee and also a lawyer called on UDF to draw lessons
from the 2004 general elections where it performed badly in
parliamentary elections because Muluzi imposed many candidates on the

But Dzonzi said UDF cannot support all its loyalists especially those the party knows cannot win.

"Speaking at party level, UDF should do everything to protect those
that have been loyal to the party. However, political realities are
that some loyalists cannot win and so the party should find way to
survive," he said.

However, he said the going back to UDF of former NDA members is good for democracy which Malawians chose in 1993.

Two UDF nec members Yusuf Matumula and Rashid Nembo told a secret
UDF meeting in Zomba last week Thursday that some nec members are not
happy with Muluzi who they said is fielding ex NDA members as shadow
MPs even in constituencies where the incumbent MPs are loyal to the

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