Erstwhile governing United Democratic Front (UDF) yesterday said it cannot rule out going into the May 21 2019 Tripartite Elections in a coalition with other parties as it is within its interest.
UDF secretary general Kandi Padambo said this in an interview in reaction to sentiments expressed by the party’s Balaka North legislator and former leader of UDF in Parliament Lucius Banda in a WhatsApp chat thread that he was lobbying UDF to join the United Transformation Movement (UTM) in the run up to next year’s elections.
He said: “Our constitution allows us to go into a coalition or an alliance. Ultimately, it must be what is in the interest of our party that will be expected to influence the leadership.”
Yesterday, Banda, who attended the UTM launch in Lilongwe on Saturday days after withdrawing from the UDF presidential race, said he would not comment on anything on the issue until Saturday when he addresses the media in Blantyre to clarify on several issues, including his political status.
But in a separate interview, governance commentator Rafiq Hajat said prospects of UDF and UTM forming a coalition should send a strong warning to the governing Democratic Progressive Party (DPP)—UDF’s political bedfellow in Parliament—that it should also form a strong coalition to avoid losing in next year’s elections.
He said: “It is a warning sign for the DPP; if it does not form any new coalitions it will probably be unsuccessful in next year’s general elections. I would think that by now, political gurus in the DPP are busy thinking of who to join up with.”
Hajat said a coalition between UDF and UTM would split the vote in the Southern Region which is considered a strong base for the DPP.
In the 2014 Tripartite Elections, DPP presidential candidate Peter Mutharika won with a minority of 36 percent. He had Chilima as his running mate.
In separate interviews, other political parties also said they are yet to decide on going into a coalition with either the UTM or other groups.
In a telephone interview, Malawi Congress Party (MCP) spokesperson the Reverend Maurice Munthali, while saying they are yet to discuss a possible coalition, said an alliance or coalition would work to their advantage as they will be working towards a common goal of forming a new government.
He said: “You will understand that in politics you do not rule out anything and as MCP we want to work with anybody who has the same vision, who has the same agenda for Malawi. It would help if we work together as a team fighting towards a common enemy.”
On his part, People’s Party (PP) spokesperson Noah Chimpeni said they have also not made any decision yet of forming a coalition.
UTM spokesperson Joseph Chidanti Malunga said they would not want to block anyone who would want to work with the movement as long as they share the same vision.
He said: “Any coalition is possible but the bottom line is that if we have the same ideologies, we will move forward together. In fact that is what we really want.”
In an earlier interview with Zodiak Broadcasting Station, Chilima also hinted that he may go into a grand coalition with other like-minded political parties as his preference is to work as a group.