Atupele also took time to sell his presidential candidature for the party.
According to UDF Eastern Region governor Abubakar Mbaya, the gathering included Machinga district UDF officials, some UDF MPs, group village heads and village heads.
But UDF second vice-president of the Friday Jumbe camp Humphrey Mvula has accused Muluzi of continuing his patronage and politicking despite his insistence that he retired from active politics.
In separate interviews Monday, Mbaya and UDF secretary general Kennedy Makwangwala confirmed the gathering which they refused to call a party meeting.
“It was just a village affair where apart from known traditional authorities [T/As], at least 460 group village headmen and village headmen came. As party officials, we only took advantage of the gathering to ask the traditional leaders whether it was true that they were not in support of AtupeleÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s [presidential] candidature,” Mbaya said.
He said it was only Atupele, himself, leader of UDF in Parliament Ibrahim Matola and some T/As who addressed the gathering on the issue while Muluzi did not talk to the chiefs or let alone attend the discussions.
“The chiefs assured us that if they voted for Atupele for two terms, what would be the problem not to support him now? I was there as regional governor while honourable Matola came as leader of UDF in Parliament. There was no one from the national executive committee,” said Mbaya.
He argued the meeting had nothing to do with strategising against the Jumbe camp, saying if Muluzi needed such a meeting he would hold it at his BCA residence which would be a convenient venue for all party officials.
Makwangwala said although he did not attend the meeting, he knew it was just an ordinary gathering where Muluzi chats with chiefs and other people from the district at the end of the year.
Mvula, however, said the party is surprised that Muluzi would want to continue seeking the limelight despite his pronouncement that he retired from politics.
He claimed he was aware of a meeting where Muluzi wanted to meet and discuss strategies with people “within his project.”
Said Mvula: “It was a meeting to strategise and promote this project. It all started at Chileka Airport where only people within his project went to welcome him. They are the same people who gathered in Machinga.”
Muluzi and Atupele could not be immediately reached on Monday as their phones kept on calling without being answered.