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

Mr Gwanda Chakuamba (2003)

search antimuluzi.blogspot.com

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Intimidation worries Veep


photograph by

Cassim Chilumpha yesterday said he was "very disturbed" with some
elements in the UDF that have resorted to intimidation of delegates to
tomorrow’s convention.

He, nevertheless, challenged he was going there to win, saying he
joined the UDF candidacy race for the 2009 presidential poll to give
democracy a practical meaning as opposed to some people who, he said,
think they have divine rights to some positions in the party.

Chilumpha, who was addressing the media at his official Mudi
residence in Blantyre, said he was worried that some of the UDF members
who had openly shown they were going to vote for him at the hyped
convention were intimidated and fired from their positions.

The Vice-President cited UDF Ntcheu district governor Eliam Chidati,
Central Region deputy governor Eckrain Kudontoni, among others, as
people who were victimised for supporting his candidacy. Kudontoni had
his official car seized at Chileka International Airport allegedly for
supporting Chilumpha.

He said some elements in the party were going door by door, forcing
people to change their mind and offering them transport to come to the
party’s secretariat in Limbe to claim their names and signatures
appeared on his nomination form but did not sign for it.

But UDF secretary-general Kennedy Makwangwala yesterday dismissed
Chilumpha’s claims, saying there was no intimidation whatsoever.

"Let the candidates just come to the convention and compete. We
allowed the Vice-President to participate despite flaws that were
there, we have ignored all that.

"The form he is using was collected by Mr. [Noordeen] Uladi and we
believe people were cheated when filling that form, but for the sake of
democracy, we have decided to put all that aside and allow him to
contest," he said.

Chilumpha told the press that if he had a choice on whether or not
to contest, he would have opted not to. He said he did not make the
decision alone, but it was reached after protracted meetings with other
senior party members.

He said people approached him to challenge UDF national chairman
Bakili Muluzi, and as a politician and Vice-President, it would have
been extremely arrogant for him to turn down the offer when other
senior members who said would challenge Muluzi were not willing to come

Chilumpha said some of the senior members of the party who attended
the meetings included Friday Jumbe and Brown Mpinganjira, but disputed
media reports that described the meetings as secret, saying they were

He strongly disputed suggestions from some quarters that he is an
introvert and he rarely attended UDF national executive committee (Nec)
meetings, explaining that as Vice-President of Malawi, he was committed
to other duties and could not be following a party leader wherever he

Chilumpha said nothing, including the treason case he is answering,
in which he is accused of plotting to assassinate President Bingu wa
Mutharika, could stop him from contesting for nomination as the party’s
torch-bearer in 2009.

Meanwhile, Makwangwala has said the party will go ahead with the
election of its presidential candidate despite revelations of serious
fraud and breach of the party’s constitution whereby some individuals
pended their signatures on both nomination forms—endorsing both Muluzi
and Chilumpha, while in some instances non-delegates also signed the

The secretary-general said the party’s constitution stipulates that
an individual can endorse only one candidate per position and that only
those eligible to be delegates to the convention can sign the
nomination papers.

Makwangwala said although this was a clear violation of the party’s
constitution, those charged with running the voting process would not
pursue the issue or penalise anyone for fear of being misunderstood by
some sectors in the party.

Asked whether going ahead with the elections will not mean the party
violating its own constitution and setting a bad precedent, Makwangwala
said: "We can’t be that harsh [to disqualify anyone], we just want to
leave it like that. We are neither taking action nor investigating the
issue because some people will not understand the situation but think
we want to get rid of someone."

No comments: