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

Mr Gwanda Chakuamba (2003)

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Sunday, April 20, 2008

United in their troubles

By CHACHACHA MUNTHALI - Sunday, April 20, 2008 - 12:55:56

were some indications that the United Democratic Front (UDF) convention
scheduled for Thursday could fail to take place: a budget deficit and
some religious leaders from Balaka and Ulongwe genuinely fearing for
the future of the party given that the main actors — or rather, the
‘protagonist’, UDF’s Chairman Bakili Muluzi and his antagonist, Vice
President Cassim Chilumpha — are still at the mercy of the law.

The party is, however, upbeat that the convention will still take
place: As for the shortfall, certain ‘non-essential’ items will be done
away with but on the second matter…

The religious leaders have a legitimate reason to fear for the future
given that should the two meet the same fate as the party’s former
publicity secretary, Sam Mpasu, deep into the campaign period, it could
destabilise the party’s footing in the mad rush towards the finishing
line for 2009 polls. Should that happen, it would be costly and
marketing an alternative candidate — one hopes s/he would be as
difficult to market as you-know-who — would take the momentum of the

However, with all due respect to the judicial system, the religious
leaders’ concerns are misplaced in suggesting that the UDF should
shelve its plans until the courts have their leisure; that, perhaps, is
failure to appreciate the justice system in Malawi.

It is an open secret that cases take notoriously too long to be
concluded in the courts. If it is not one side asking for an
adjournment because some crucial witness is unavailable for whatever
reason, then it is the other arguing over ‘trivia’ or begging for more
time to go through some evidence which the other side ‘ambushed’ them
with a while ago.

So, by the time their cases get to be concluded, it could be well over
months, if not years, into the other term. Besides, if it is some
comfort to the chiefs, Muluzi pleads his innocence just as stridently
as Chilumpha swear by his. And we are to take their word of innocence
for it, why delay a process that could get underway sooner?

By the way, at least people can talk of a democratic process in the UDF
with expectancy, fear or even hope; at least it has shown that its
members are capable of squaring up to the big-man syndrome and almost
getting away with it but the same cannot be said of the other parties —
perhaps with the exception of Aford which underwent its ‘healing’
process last year.

MDP’s Kamlepo Kalua and MDU’s Amunandife Nkumba are presidents for
life, perhaps reflecting more of the parties’ lean membership base than
the leaders’ perchance to cling on to power; NRP (?) seems to be stuck
by Gwanda Chakuamba; PPM’s candidate for the presidency is as
predictable as the rising of the sun in the east.

As for the MCP and the ‘ruling’ DPP, we all know who will lead them, so
why hold conventions to elect the already elected? MCP’s headache,
however, is coming up with a credible and a credible and strong
candidate from the south (the north failed the last time around) to
partner you-know-who. It doesn’t matter if this ‘strong candidate’ is
one whose popularity does not spill to over a kilometre outside his
home village. He just has to be ‘strong’ and credible.

So, accuse UDF of everything but rest assured, they are united in their
troubles to ensure democracy rules in their party. I, for one, will
pray for a peaceful convention.

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