United Democratic Front (UDF) president Atupele Muluzi is facing pressure from some district committee members to convene an extraordinary national conference to map the way forward for the party.
In a letter dated August 31, addressed to Muluzi and copied to secretary general Kandi Padambo, the members say the conference must be called in line with Article 10 of the UDF constitution to address several issues.
But while acknowledging having received the letter, Muluzi in an interview on Wednesday said the party is consulting on the matter to determine the way forward.
In the letter, the members claim that the party is in a sorry state with all structures at grassroots level in disarray, non-functional or non-existent.
They have since given Muluzi 14 days to respond or face unspecified action.
In an interview, one of the signatories to the letter, UDF Rumphi District secretary Esther Ng’ambi claimed the party leadership does not involve district committees in key decisions.
She said: “For instance, the partnership with the Democratic Progressive Party [DPP] in the fresh presidential election was made at the top level, leaving out our voices.”
But in an interview, Muluzi said: “The UDF is a democratic party, which has and will always hold conventions.
“Most recently, in August 2018, members were elected for a five-year constitutional mandate. However, the UDF is consulting widely and will hold a convention in the near future.”
On his part, Padambo also acknowledged receiving the letter and confirmed membership of the district committee members. He, however, blamed them for not following proper procedures in raising such concerns.
He said: “My office has received the letter in reference.
“Our members, particularly those in structures, know the provisions of our constitution and how official communication from structures should be channelled.”
The letter was signed by, among others, district committee chairpersons, secretaries, treasurers and youth committee chairpersons, mostly from Rumphi District.
Reads in part the letter: “Certain decisions taken by NEC [national executive committee] in recent times, such as the working relationship with the DPP [Democratic Progressive Party], was never fully supported by a majority of our membership. It has made us lose confidence in this NEC and the leadership.”
The concerned members further state that since 2013, the members only met occasionally to plan the affairs of the party.
Meanwhile, political commentator Humphrey Mvula has said despite the party’s elaborate constitution, it has been disregarded in coming up with decisions by the leadership.
The DPP and UDF went into a working relationship to gain votes in Parliament and support the government’s legislative agenda in the first five years of the DPP from May 2014.
Ahead of the June 23 Fresh Presidential Election, the two parties also formed an alliance where Muluzi was running mate to DPP president Peter Mutharika.
Last week, Muluzi told The Nation that the UDF will maintain its partnership with the DPP.