On Sunday, beleaguered United Democratic Front (UDF) secretary general (SG) Kennedy Makwangwala convened a national executive committee (NEC) meeting at the party headquarters in Limbe, a gathering that was trashed as Ã¢â‚¬Å“illegalÃ¢â‚¬Â by leader of the Friday Jumbe camp.
During the Sunday meeting, the Makwangwala camp, which is backing presidential contender Atupele Muluzi, appointed various people into the NEC, replacing those that are in the Jumbe camp.
But Jumbe told a news conference on Monday that Makwangwala was warned to cancel his NEC meeting, arguing the partyÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s constitution does not give powers to the SG to call for such a meeting, moreover he was suspended. Jumbe also described the Limbe office as Ã¢â‚¬Å“former UDF headquarters.Ã¢â‚¬Â
Reads a letter dated February 25 2012 addressed to Makwangwala and co-signed by Jumbe and deputy secretary general Hophmally Makande: “The National Working Committee [NWC] and all senior members of the national executive committee have learnt with deep regret that you [Makwangwala] have called for a NEC meeting tomorrow 26th February 2012 when you have no authority to do so.
“As you know, the UDF constitution does not confer on you powers to convene such a meeting,”
Jumbe accused Makwangwala of promoting the interests of former UDF national chairperson Bakili Muluzi who, he claimed, has an agenda to push through his son Atupele to be the partyÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s presidential candidate in 2014.
Jumbe, who was accompanied by at least seven NEC members at the news conference,, accused Muluzi of failing to handover power and assets and that he is the brain behind all the confusion happening in the party.
One of the senior and founding members of the party, Ziliro Chibambo, argued UDF cannot win an election if there is no solution to current leadership wrangle.
UDF director of research Humphrey Mvula produced some documents purportedly signed by Makwangwala, claiming these justify the Jumbe camp as the mainstream UDF.
In an interview later, Makwangwala laughed off the Jumbe faction claims, arguing people on the ground are the best judges of who are the true UDF. Makwangwala said JumbeÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s group does not go out to address people but are busy conducting news conferences.
“All I can say is that we will meet in the field where people are. I doubt if they can go out to address a UDF meeting because people will not welcome them,” claimed Makwangwala.
On allegations that he has been paid to support AtupeleÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s candidature, Makwangwala said: “We always address our meetings with three people who have expressed interest to be the candidates. We have Moses Dossi, Atupele Muluzi and Nga Mtafu. Why is it that they always talk about one candidate? They are just afraid of Atupele. Why canÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t they come and compete with Atupele at a convention?Ã¢â‚¬Â