Did the recent United Democratic Front convention signal the birth of a stronger UDF? Not quite seems to be the general feeling. But it sure was something that can turn the partyâ€™s weaknesses to strengths, said an analyst.
Social and political commentator and historian, Professor Wiseman Chijere Chirwa made the remarks in a phone interview to Nation on Sunday, on Saturday.
His reaction also reflected our weekly survey results in which we asked Malawians of various callings and localities whether UDF is going to come out of its convention stronger.
Six in every 10 of the 1 200 people we sampled said the convention will not make UDF stronger.
â€œThere are few issues to consider: In the first place, the fact that the party managed to hold a convention and elected a new executive committee gives the party the potential to build the party. The convention gives them that platform.
â€œSecondly, organising delegates from across the country reinvigorates them and gives members confidence. But I wouldnâ€™t call it making the party strong,â€ said Chirwa.
Chirwa said what will really matter is what UDF does after the convention. He also said the breakaway by Friday Jumbe and company should not worry UDF members and that it has actually come at the right time.
â€œThe split is not worrisome. Those who have left actually give legitimacy to those still in the party to lead,â€ said Chirwa.
The survey, however, had a 40 percent chunk which believes that the party will now get some wings.
One respondent, Suzgo Phiri, responding to Nation Online said: â€œI agree [that the convention will make UDF stronger] because we have legitimate leaders who were elected at the convention rather than just being imposed.â€
UDF itself through its newly elected general secretary, Kandi Padambo, agrees with the dominant feeling among Malawians that a convention alone cannot make a party stronger. Padambo, however, said the party has gained several things from the convention.
â€œWe had a lot of wrangles and factions in the party and the convention solved that problem such that we can now only talk of one UDF. It is the convention that helped us do that,â€ said Padambo.
Asked if the fact that Atupele Muluzi still reports to Joyce Banda as a minister will compromised UDFâ€™s strengths, Padambo disputed and said there is no contradiction between UDFâ€™s goals and Atupeleâ€™s current position.
â€œI think we should understand the circumstances that led the current government to assume power, and as Atupele Muluzi himself said the mess of the previous regime needed many hands to clear. The president of Aford took a similar stance and I do not see any contradiction,â€ said Padambo.