Vice-President Saulos Chilima has said the country’s newest registered political party, UTM, will hold its first elective convention next month.
Chilima, whom UTM has been promoting his presidential candidature in the May 21 2019 Tripartite Elections since ditching the governing Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) in June, made the announcement at Nsalula Primary School ground in Salima yesterday where he was the main speaker.
The announcement came two days after UTM, which faced legal impediments to register with the registrar of political parties simply using the abbreviation ‘UTM’ instead of the full name United Transformation Movement, got registered following a court order. Chilima showcased a framed copy of the registration certificate to the audience during the rally.
He said: “I would like to state that following the successful registration of the party, we are going to have the convention next month. We are going to announce soon a list of positions that will be up for a grab. Every position will be contested for.”
In an interview later, UTM interim publicity secretary Joseph Chidanti Malunga said the party is still instituting a committee which will be responsible for managing the convention.
He said there are also a number of things the party is considering before setting up the date for the convention, citing the requirement to give a 21 day notice to aspirants as one of the conditions which the interim party leadership wants to meet.
Said Malunga: “Our constitution says that we have to give a 21-day notice to enable aspirants prepare.”
In a telephone interview yesterday, University of Livingstonia (Unilia) political scientist George Phiri tipped delegates to elect office bearers sharing a common vision with Chilima owing to the fact that those leaders who will be elected will be given the mandate to lead followers of the party.
The new Political Parties Act to roll out on December 1 this year bars any leader from contesting for the presidency if not elected through the convention.
In a telephone interview yesterday, political analyst Humphreys Mvula said the convention which the party has slated for next month will be done just to legitimise the national executive membership because there are a lot of processes that UTM needs to go through before setting the date.
Findings of a survey conducted by Zomba-based Institute of Public Opinion and Research (Ipor) released last week showed that UTM and its leader are the third most popular grouping after DPP and opposition Malawi Congress Party (MCP).
The survey report, dated October 28 2018, was conducted between August and September—barely weeks after UTM was launched—to assess the political environment in the country with 10 months to the elections and give an understanding of the political and economic environment in the country.
Previously, several other groups have faced registration hurdles before they were saved by the courts.