After nearly three years of intimacy, there are some misgivings on sustenance of the alliance between the ruling Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) and United Democratic Front (UDF) beyond the 2019 general elections.
The UDF and DPP became bedfellows soon after the 2014 Tripartite Elections when President Peter Mutharika drafted into his first Cabinet the UDF leader, Atupele Muluzi. Muluzi is currently Minister of Lands, Housing and Urban Development.
As a way of solidifying their working relationship, Muluzi’s party further moved from the opposition to government benches in the 193-member National Assembly.
Only Balaka North legislator Lucius Banda, then UDF leader in Parliament, defied the party’s decision.
But since then, the leaders of the two parties have remained indecisive on whether they will attempt the forthcoming polls individually or as a bloc.
However, UDF spokesperson Ken Ndanga said yesterday that the party has never discussed or indicated that it would contest the 2019 polls in partnership with DPP.
“So it is difficult to comment on something that does not exist unless there was an agreement to that effect.
“Working together in Parliament is not an elections’ issue. The elections will take place in 2019 and by then the UDF would have had conducted a process of identifying its leader through a convention and the NEC [national executive committee] will decide when to meet,” he said.
Ndanga also said the party has always been guided by its constitution on the issue and there is no departure from that and that UDF member is aware of the party’s activities.
“This year alone we have had three public rallies and other activities all of them led by our president. Just yesterday [Sunday] we were in Chikwawa,” he said.
But when contacted on the issue of their alliance and the 2019 polls, DPP spokesperson Francis Kasaila said the issue did not concern The Nation and once a decision is made, it will be communicated to its followers.
When asked that the party followers have the right to know what was going on, Kasaila said: “Whether they are UDF or DPP supporters, they know where to ask, they have structures and when decisions are made they will know.”
But Lucius Banda wondered whether his party was serious to contest in 2019 polls.
“Three years have gone and we are now remaining with two years before the elections. Apparently, we are remaining with this year because 2018 is a campaign year and we are still in a coalition with another party. We are not sure whether we will go into the elections with or not,” wondered Banda.
He added: “In my opinion, it is time we concentrated on our party, if at all we are contesting in the polls this is the time we should go in the field and started working.”
But commenting on the issue, political scientist Mustafa Hussein said if the UDF intends to contest in the polls alone, its popularity will be dependent on the DPP’s achievements in Parliament.
Hussein, a political science lecturer at University of Malawi’s Chancellor College, also observed that for an ordinary citizen, the UDF is the same as DPP.
“Therefore, any bad image on DPP will reflect on the UDF outside Parliament,” which is during the elections.