As debate continues on United Transformation Movement (UTM)’s ability to pull large crowds during its two recent launches in Lilongwe and Blantyre, political analysts have advised the grouping to strategise on reaching out to the rural masses.
The analysts argue that much as UTM is seen to be gaining political ground, it has an assignment to reach out to rural areas which have up to 80 percent of the voting population.
Chancellor College political scientist Ernest Thindwa hinted that while the movement is attracting huge numbers of people in its rallies in urban areas, a thing which should worry competitors such as Malawi Congress Party (MCP) and Democratic Progressive Party (DPP), it is not an indication that it has a large following.
He said: “Having a huge turnout at a political rally is one thing and having the vote is another thing. We have seen situations in the past where a large number of people turn up to rallies but come voting, it’s disappointing. The turning up to rallies does not necessarily translate into votes even though it’s a positive indication.
“The key challenge for UTM is to sell the movement to the rural masses because that is where most votes are and people rarely change their electoral preferences. That can give a good indication of how strong the movement is because in this country, elections are decided by rural voters, not urban voters.”
Commenting on the issue, social and political commentator Emily Mkamanga said the movement needs to strategise on penetrating into the rural population because if they stick to urban areas, they will soon lose momentum like other parties.
Responding to the comments, UTM interim secretary general Patricia Kaliati said they appreciate the feedback.
However, she said they have already set up area committees, constituency committees and political district administrations in all corners of the country.