Barely four days after President Peter Mutharika hit at Balaka parliamentarian Lucius Banda, the United Democratic Front (UDF) has described him as dishonest and disruptive.
In a statement issued yesterday, UDF spokesperson Ken Ndanga said Banda accepted to be a leader of the UDF in Parliament with the support of the party’s president Atupele Muluzi.
He also claimed that Banda was part and parcel of the discussion UDF held with the ruling Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) that led to the formation of the working relationship between the two parties.
Ndanga said it should be noted that Banda’s acceptance of the role as UDF’s leader in Parliament was a clear indication of his understanding and support of the relationship with the DPP, despite his choice to remain in the opposition benches.
“The UDF as party has tolerated the increasingly disruptive conduct of honourable Lucius Banda in the spirit of democracy and the core principles of our party. His continued negative comments to the media against his own party cannot further be tolerated, him being a member of the national executive committee [NEC] of the party.
“His statements against the party and its leadership in the media have the potential to bring disunity in the party which is very unfortunate. The distorted perspective that he offered about the relationship between UDF and DPP appears to be simply cheap political advantage,” he said.
But Banda has laughed off Ndanga’s sentiments, saying suggesting that he was involved in the decisions and discussions that led to the two parties’ working relationship was a joke because if he had been involved, he would not be holding a different opinion now.
He said the only time he was involved was at a UDF caucus where members were informed of an already made decision.
On raising his grievances with the party, he said by making his statement in the public he was “simply” reacting to an attack on his personality by the President.
Commenting on Banda’s recent remarks on the coalition, DPP spokesperson Francis Kasaila said the party is not surprised because he (Banda) is not part of the relationship as he remained in the opposition benches supporting Malawi Congress Party (MCP) and People’s Party while his colleagues moved to the government side in the National Assembly.
However, Chancellor College political analyst Mustapha Hussein said the developments are a signal that intra-party democracy is still deficient in UDF as there is no way two political parties can join forces while a leader of the other party in the National Assembly holds a different view.
He said: “The coalition is meant to benefit both DPP and UDF and in the absence of a memorandum, it is very difficult to know what sort of coalition it is and what is in it for UDF… UDF as a party needs to sit down to iron out with the issues with honourable Lucius Banda in order to come out with a clear stand.”