Six of the seven political parties in the MCP/UTM electoral alliance on Thursday indicated having different expectations from the agreement.
Malawi Congress Party (MCP) and UTM Party presidents, Lazarus Chawera and Saulos Chilima, respectively, on Thursday announced their commitment to work together.
To kick-start the process, Chakwera and Chilima on Thursday signed a memorandum of understanding to work together, a development that will culminate in the two parties supporting one presidential candidate.
Seven other parties are supporting the alliance and their leaders witnessed the signing ceremony on Thursday. The parties are People’s Party (PP), Alliance for Democracy (Aford), Malawi Forum for Unity and Development (Mafunde), Umodzi Party (UP), People’s Progressive Movement (PPM), People’s Transformation Party (Petra) and Freedom Party (FP).
Presidents of PP and Aford president Joyce Banda and Enock Chihana, signed as witnesses for MCP and UTM, respectively.
Asked what they expect from the alliance, PP’s spokesperson Ackson Kalaile Banda said: “Our expectation from the alliance is to see change. That is why despite having a very strong political base we have sacrificed ourselves. We are not looking at leadership or any position. In this alliance, we are looking at Malawians being the beneficiaries.”
Banda said the party’s interest in the alliance was to see new dimensions in the country in all spheres.
He said PP already signed an electoral agreement with MCP in 2019 which was still binding and were in the MCP/UTM alliance as partners of MCP.
Mafunde president George Nnesa said they see value in working together.
Mnesa said: “We have been meeting both UTM and MCP on the need to work together because we saw value in coming together.”
Petra president Kamuzu Chibambo who also supported the idea of working together to serve Malawians said: “Any vote one brings makes a difference and at the end it is the totality of the whole thing that makes people win”.
“For too long our politics has been inward looking instead of looking at what we can do for Malawians. This is the time we should genuinely fight for Malawians and that is what has driven parties to join the alliance,” said Chibambo.
But UP president John Chisi said the idea of the alliance was for people to vote for the chosen leader after which they will look at all the involved parties’ manifestos and “figure out which manifestos can immediately change Malawi.”
He said the parties were members of the alliance by proxy but they will still meet to merge their ideas.
“Out of respect, we have said let them [Chilima and Chakwera] lead the alliance but at the moment, we will discuss the manifestos; that’s what we are after. We will put together the manifestos and come up with one bigger manifesto because we believe a lot of good ideas don’t come to fruition because they are individualised,” he said.
On his part PPM president Mark Katsonga Phiri said his party’s expectation is that after signing the agreement all the nine parties will now be working together while looking at a concrete electoral alliance.
“Political processes are complicated and take time because they have to be done in a way that everybody understands and agrees but there is still a lot of work to be done,” he said.
Katsonga said Malawians must forget thinking across individual party lines but collectively, as an electoral alliance.
“The previous alliances have failed because people were more focused on personal interests but we are saying let us talk alliance and not what will get from the alliance,” said Katsonga.
Political commentator Humphreys Mvula said the alliance was bilateral between MCP and UTM, as such, people have to wait to understand how it will be configured.
“But I see collectively, as parties, they will converge under one basic banner either MCP or UTM while still answering as different entities.
“The critical thing, however, is that they have tactfully avoided identifying a leader now and I hope it is about safeguarding the leadership because they know they can easily be frustrated by the other camp,” he said.
On his part, University of Malawi political scientist Master Dicks Mfune believed the agreement signing was ceremonial but there were several things behind the scenes that have taken place between MCP and UTM and the seven other political parties.
However, Mfune said UTM and MCP have played a game of strategies and as such they will use manifestos of both parties as they have many common grounds. Thereafter they will have a synthesized message to other alliance partners which will mainly cater for the two main opposition parties.
MCP spokesperson Rev Maurice Munthali who like his UTM counterpart Joseph Chidanti Malunga has kept a tight lid on the contents of the memorandum of understanding their two parties signed, said on Friday that they will announce other details of the agreement later.