"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, March 08, 2009

Chakuamba NRP rejects accord with UDF

Gwanda Chakuamba’s New Republican Party has rejected the memorandum of understanding which it was scheduled to sign with the United Democratic Front alongside three other alliance partners.
This dramatic turn of political events comes amid reports that Chakuamba is into discussions with President Bingu wa Mutharika for a possibility of disbanding his party to rejoin the Democratic Progressive Party.
NRP secretary general Ken Zikhale Ng’oma in an interview this week said, among several other reasons, the party has rejected the MOU because NRP feels the agreement was not thoroughly serving its interests having put the party as a junior partner along the other three parties.
But the UDF has justified its position saying it could only consider NRP as an equal partner if the party was ready to also contribute equally to resources in preparation for the forthcoming elections.
Zikhale Ng’oma, who is also doubling as the party’s vice-president, said NRP cannot sign an agreement which was putting Malawi Democratic Party, Malavi People’s Party  and Malawi Democratic Union at the same level as the NRP, which he said has the potential to win a number of seats during the May 19 elections.
“The MOU is too general. We want as NRP to be known as a force on its own. We have some specifications because at the end of the day we are asking ourselves what we are going to achieve,” he said.
Zikhale Ng’oma said the party was currently consulting its members on the contents of the MOU and it will go back to the UDF for fresh negotiations.
“Why should UDF benefit alone? As NRP we want to negotiate alone, whatever Kamlepo gets we are not interested. We are looking at ourselves that we started this whole thing. We cannot be absorbed by the UDF because we stand on an equal footing,” he added.
Zikhale Ng’oma said NRP allowed UDF to have both the presidential candidate and his running mate because they were aware that in such an agreement there is supposed to be a spirit of humbleness and give and take.
He also said although there has been speculation that the NRP was leaving the alliance the party was still in partnership with UDF.
“As NRP we have the right to talk to people who are interested to talk to us and if we want to move nobody will stop us, however, the first thing is to discuss and if we don’t agree then probably we can move on,” he said.
UDF spokesperson Rob Jamieson described NRP’s stand as strange and insisted that all the alliance partners were at an equal level since all of them were joining the UDF.
“When you are equal partners you must contribute resources equally, like we could have said let us contribute 50 percent each to the nomination fees for our presidential candidate but that was not done. Why should they talk of equal partnership without equal contribution? If they contribute sufficiently well and good,” said Jameison.
He added: “We had a meeting where the MOU was agreed upon. However, the problem is that NRP believes that it is a strong force that can win a lot of MPs which I don’t think is true.”
The alliance spokesperson Humphrey Mvula said their partner’s concern was not an issue and if the party comes forward UDF was ready to have a ‘stand alone’ agreement with NRP.
“We are sponsoring a president and UDF is a national party which has taken part in elections before—in 1994, 1999 and 2004. We will continue sponsoring our president with or without an alliance partner,” he said.
Mvula also said the UDF was surprised with NRP’s sudden change of  heart because he said “nobody was forced to sign a generic MOU.”
MDP president Kamlepo Kalua in a separate interview said even if NRP looked at itself as a big party in the alliance what was needed was compromise. He described NRP’s outbursts as a lame excuse and a sign that the leadership of the party was not politically mature enough.
“Probably they want to join another party. I think if they are not happy let them come out in the open, let them go to Atcheya and negotiate. We have not yet signed the MOU and nobody is denying the NRP to come up with a separate agreement,” said Kalua.
The MDP leader said to his party, the MOU “was containing very beautiful things with the NRP and [Chakuamba] given an  upper hand.”
On Wednesday, Chakuamba denied to have met Mutharika to discuss a possible reunion.
“The answer is no, I never met the president and what I know is that I am with UDF,” he said.
Mvula said despite the electoral coalition which political parties form, the individual parties have every right to go out prospecting for a better partner if they so wish in exercising the right to freedom of association as enshrined in the Republican Constitution.
Chancellor College political analyst Blessings Chinsinga in an interview said Chakuamba’s NRP has no basis for claiming that it is a strong force at par with the UDF since it is a party which has never contested an election.
“Chakuamba dissolved the RP and his association with the RP cannot be a basis for claiming that NRP is a strong party. RP is not NRP, you cannot bargain on the basis of association with another entity,” said Chinsinga.

-Nation Malawi

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