United Transformation Movement (UTM) has finally filed documents to register the grouping as a political party, reneging on its earlier arrangement with the United Transformation Party (UTP) to use the latter’s existing structures.
While confirming the development to Weekend Nation in separate interviews this week, UTM interim secretary general Patricia Kaliati and spokesperson Joseph Chidanti-Malunga were both tight-fisted on the details.
The movement filed the documents with the Registrar of Political Parties last week and the 14-day requirement expires on September 27, after which the Registrar will either register UTM or inform the movement about what it needs to do going forward, according to information we have sourced.
Initially, ChidantiMalunga announced the Saulos Chilima-led movement would not register as a political party because “Malawians were tired of formation of new political parties” but instead Chilima leads the newly-formed movement it would discuss with any political party or parties to form an alliance.
Later, Chidanti-Malunga said UTM would rebrand the UTP of businessperson and former president of Malawi Confederation of Chambers of Commerce and Industry (MCCCI) Newton Kambala and continue using its existing structures.
But, in an interview this week, Kaliati confirmed that the leadership had filed the documents to register UTM as a political party to contest in 2019 elections.
Asked what would now happen to UTP, Kaliati simply said: “We are not using UTP. There is nothing like adopting another name. Our name remains UTM; our structures also remain the same, this is for UTM only.”
But UTP leader, Kambala, was elusive when Weekend Nation inquired from him what the development meant to his party, which was registered in 2016.
“The arrangement has been that UTM is a rebrand of UTP,” Kambala said furiously while charging at this reporter of having sinister motives to confuse Malawians.
He then cut the line, saying: “And let me ask you not to call me again.”
According to a certificate of registration we have seen, UTP registered as political party number 50 on March 23 2016 and has been a key member of opposition political parties, primarily without parliamentary representation, that formed a coalition bloc dubbed ‘Tikonze Dziko Lathu’, to field a candidate during next year’s polls.
In another interview, Chidanti-Malunga said the rebranding of UTP did not mean they would change everything.
He said: “UTP has transformed into UTM. When you are rebranding, some things you change, others you keep and carryover to the next rebranding name. So, it is true we said we were going to use UTP structures, but you have to know that all this is rebranding and making sure that we have something that is new.”
So far, UTM has maintained UTP’s red and gold colours, but changed other things such as the logo and motto.
UTM followers have been asking the movement’s leadership to register the grouping as a political party if it is to amass support ahead of 2019 elections, and as an indication that it has come to stay.
UTM, which started as Chilima Movement, has also been working with Wodya Zake Alibe Mlandu political grouping headed by Michael Usi, popularly known as Manganya.
UTM executive members comprising district, regional and national leaders met in Lilongwe early this month where they agreed to hold their elective convention on November 9 2018 at a venue to be communicated later.