United Democratic Front (UDF) president Atupele Muluzi says his party will maintain its alliance with Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) up to the next general election.
In an interview on Thursday, Muluzi—who was running mate for former president Peter Mutharika in the court-ordered June 23 Fresh Presidential Election—said the two parties’ alliance was important to ensure a strong opposition in the country.
He said: “Malawi needs a strong and effective opposition. The UDF and DPP working together provides that alternative voice.”
Muluzi, who is son to former president Bakili Muluzi, said the fact that 1.7 million Malawians voted for the DPP-UDF ticket gives the alliance hope to move on and consolidate its presence on the ground.
But critics say the UDF and DPP alliance had done more harm than good in as far as popularity is concerned; hence, UDF needed to embark on a rebuilding exercise.
In an interview on Thursday, governance analyst Makhumbo Munthali said by maintaining the partnership with DPP, UDF was indirectly communicating that it had run out of options and acknowledged that it is a party on its deathbed.
“UDF should by now have started doing a postmortem of why the party’s popularity has been dwindling over time despite being in partnership with DPP,” he said.
Munthali said time has proven that such an alliance largely served the political and economic interests of the Muluzi family at the expense of the party.
In a separate interview, Ernest Thindwa, a political science lecturer at University of Malawi’s Chancellor College, said UDF is being pragmatic, realising winning an election with 50-percent-plus-one vote is a toll order if the party were to go it alone.
He said: “The absolute majority requirement to claim victory in the presidential race will tend to incentivise parties to seek electoral alliances.”
The DPP and UDF working partnership goes back to Mutharika’s five-year term from May 2014. The two parties went into a working arrangement to guarantee votes in the National Assembly and support the government’s legislative agenda.
In that period, Muluzi held numerous ministerial positions. But in their arrangement pertaining to the fresh presidential election, Mutharika appointed three UDF members into various Cabinet positions, including Muluzi himself.
Currently, Mutharika is facing calls for an early convention to elect his successor after his defeat in the June 23 election. However, the former president has not taken lightly the calls and the party’s central committee has since summoned secretary general Grezelder Jeffrey and others to disciplinary hearings.