After a series of unsuccessful legal battles, government on Friday succumbed to courts’ orders and registered the United Transformation Movement (UTM) as a political party under the name UTM Party in line with Section 6 of the Political Parties (Registration and Regulation) Act 1993.
As ordered by the High Court in Blantyre on November 2 2018, the party’s certificate of registration is backdated to September 21 2018, the day UTM of Plot No. 43/2/40, C/O P.O. Box 30390, Capital City, Lilongwe 3, filed its application.
Both UTM interim spokesperson Joseph Chidanti-Malunga and lawyer representing UTM Lozindaba Mbvundula from Ritz Attorneys confirmed the development in separate interviews last evening.
“Finally, we have got the certificate (of registration). We are very delighted because we are now one of the political parties ready to contest in next year’s elections,” said Malunga in a brief interview.
In a letter reference number RG/TECH/10, dated November 9, 2018 and addressed to Ritz Attorneys at Law, deputy Registrar of Political Parties Chikumbutso Namelo said the registration was in accordance with the court order made by Justice John M. Chirwa on November 2 2018.
“I hereby certify that the above-named political party has this day been registered under the Political Parties (Registration and Regulation) Act, 1993,” reads the certificate of registration signed by Namelo.
In a separate interview, Mbvundula said the registration was expected because, in the first place, the Registrar of Political Parties had no sufficient grounds as agreed by the courts to prevent the party from registering.
She said: “So we believe any attempts that were made not to register it as a political party were not really sound.”
University of Malawi (Unima) political scientist Mustapha Hussein described UTM registration as a “positive step forward” because people were anxious to know after the court battles.
“People now expect the party to mobilise itself and enhance its activities so as to compete favourably against the already established parties.
“It needs to sell itself to the electorate particularly in the rural areas and explain its policies and ensure proper organisation for meaningful campaign later,” he said.
On Thursday, in attempts to foil the registration, the State suffered its third successive loss in the case when the Malawi Supreme Court of Appeal upheld a High Court decision to reject its application to suspend enforcement of an order to register UTM as a political party by close of business on Friday (Friday).
In the ruling Justice Kapanda, sitting as a single Supreme Court Judge, argued that the High Court was right in its reasoning and its decision.
On November 2, Judge Chirwa gave Registrar of Political Parties seven days to register UTM as a political party and described his decision to reject the application as “unreasonable and unjustifiable”.
The State then applied to the court to set aside the order, an application which was dismissed before it revived its legal battle with the party through an appeal against the November 2 order which was for the second time thrown away.
Until registration, UTM was a political movement formed in July this year and had been canvassing for Vice-President Saulos’s presidential bid in next year’s Tripartite Elections.