Is UDF on death bed?

UDF has won 50 percent of the six presidential elections held since 1994.  But in the last three elections, the party has faltered. The last elections were even more shocking; the party president – son to the founding president of the once mighty political grouping – Atupele Muluzi did not just perform poorly on the presidential front but failed to secure his own seat in Parliament. Since then, the UDF has gone quiet. In this interview with UDF spokesperson Ken Ndanga, our News Analyst SUZGO CHITETE presents questions widely asked by the public. Excerpts:

Ndanga: Our problems can be solved by the leader

UDF contested in the May 21 polls in all three aspects, what is your general position on the outcome which is being contested in court in part by fellow contestants?

We were to a greater extent betrayed by our monitors. What is coming out in the court now clearly shows that our monitors were sleeping on the job. On the positive note, at least we were able to win in areas which we have not been winning in the last two elections such as Blantyre Malabada and one constituency in Nkhotakota. That in itself is an indication that we can do better in the next election.

Some argue that the UDF has been ruined, going by both presidential, parliamentary and local government elections results in the May 21 Tripartite Elections due to poor leadership. What’s your take?

It is easy to blame the leadership when things have not worked. In every political party, each one has to play a role for the success of the party.  Of course, we need to change the thinking which suggests that all our problems can be solved by the leader. A proper post-mortem will surely reveal that there are several factors that may have led to the unsatisfactory performance.

UDF seems to be a party that enjoys partnering with ruling parties, going by recent developments, you worked with PP [People’s Party] and lately DPP.  What has been the benefit to the party to be in a working relationship with governing parties?

Politics is very dynamic. We have worked with both opposition and government too. It is unfortunate that some people seem to focus so much on our working relationship with parties in power. When we work with governments we mean well for the country and we do that in good faith. We want to make Malawi a better place regardless of who is the leader. Unfortunately, partisan politics in Malawi does not work well with that kind of approach.

There is strong public perception that UDF works with governing parties to save the founder Bakili Muluzi from prosecution on the K1.7 billion case which has stalled? How do you weigh in on this assumption?

Lies spread faster than truths. The truth of the matter though is that these matters are in court and our courts are independent. There is no evidence of any interference so far. Let me not comment further.

The party has always been viewed as serving the interests of the Muluzis [both senior and junior]. What is the party doing to shake off this public image?

It is a fact that the party has been led by two Muluzi’s at different times.  If we were to pass a resolution that after Dr. Bakili Muluzi we should not allow any other Muluzi to lead the party, what will the world say? That is not to say they will be there forever. It is not possible. The party will always give a chance to any person who has the interest of the party and that of the country at heart to lead the party through a democratic process as enshrined in the party constitution.

Having failed to secure the presidency in the last two elections, what’s the future of Atupele Muluzi?

If you ask me about the future of the organisation, I will explain to you but your question in my view is very personal and it will be unfair for me to respond to that on behalf of Right Honourable Atupele Muluzi.

Do you think the UDF will ever command the massive support it ever enjoyed between 1994 and 2004? What the UDF has gone through in the recent times is good for the party. Experience is a good teacher and the world is a good school, so they say. We are engaging our people. Through the interface we are able to get their views which include concerns and possible solutions. If we listen and implement what the people want then we can even become stronger than before. The UDF party will bounce back and get back into government in our life time.

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