UTM Party president Saulos Chilima says he is ready to enter into an alliance should the ruling of the Constitutional Court favour the petitioners.
Chilima was the first petitioner while his Malawi Congress Party counterpart Lazarus Chakwera was the second petitioner in the case seeking nullification of the May 21, 2019 presidential election results citing irregularities, whose ruling is set for Monday. The case was being heard by a five-judge panel in the High Court in Lilongwe that was sitting as a Constitutional Court.
Chakwera has since said he appreciates Chilima’s gesture, adding when people are fighting for one goal it is possible to form an alliance.
Addressing the press at UTM Party’s headquarters in Lilongwe, Chilima said he would welcome an alliance as long as they have a common agenda.
He was responding to a question from The Nation on whether his party and MCP would form an alliance following reports that they have been in talks on the same.
Chilima said: “We are always ready to work with others as long as we can accommodate one another. It will also depend on our motivation for that alliance. So, yes, an alliance is possible.”
The UTM Party leader, who is the country’s immediate former vice-president, declined to shed more light on what role he would play should the alliance materialise.
“At this moment I can’t say what role we will play, it is premature. We need to let some matters pass. But take note that UTM will be there whether there will be an alliance or not. The party has leaders,” he said.
Meanwhile, Chakwera has said he welcomes Chilima’s openness on the matter and that he was hopeful that “this will be done”.
The MCP leader and Chilima were putting a united front in their court appearances during the presidential election petition case hearing, and they both endorsed the Human Rights Defenders Coalition (HRDC)-led protests against the elections’ outcome, sometimes joining in the demonstrations.
Chakwera, in a telephone interview, said MCP and “other parties” have already proven that it is possible for all of us to come together to build our country.
He said: “As you know, uniting Malawians is a signature pillar of the Chakwera Hi-5 agenda. So, I applaud the UTM president’s call for Malawians to unite in accepting the court’s ruling peacefully, just as I myself took the initiative to do so a week ago. Similarly, I welcome his openness to forming alliances for the sake of bringing Malawians together after the ruling.”
Chakwera added that what is left now is for the words to be turned into action, “and I am hopeful that this will be done”.
However, political analyst Henry Chingaipe has said an alliance between MCP and UTM Party should have been done long ago but it did not happen “because of egos”.
He said: “This is indicative of a political project that has been on the cards for a long time in the opposition. Even before the 2019 elections, the prospects for an electoral alliance was in the air until when it was sacrificed at the altar of egos.
“The 2019 election is a reality check to all politicians to discover ways for political collective action in order to achieve more and better results in governance and development.”
Chingaipe added that should the Constitutional Court rule in favour of the petitioners, an electoral alliance of the opposition parties is possible, saying unity of purpose among political elites at a certain level has some chance of creating real unity among supporters of the various parties.
“What we understood is that before the elections, crowds at their rallies and media hype bolstered their resolve to go solo. We also understand that a narrative was propagated that the fact that Chilima had been a vice-president of the republic meant that he could not go into an alliance where he was not going to be the leader.
“But UTM was untested at the ballot. The 2019 elections, at least going by the parliamentary and local government results, were something of a reality check.”
Following the announcement by Malawi Electoral Commission (MEC) of Mutharika as winner of the May 2019 presidential election, UTM Party and MCP joined forced to challenge the outcome, citing irregularities in the results management process.
MEC declared Mutharika winner of the presidential race with 1 940 709 votes or 38.57 percent. He was trailed by Chakwera with 1 781 740 votes (35.41 percent) and Chilima with 1 018 369 votes or 20.24 percent.