The United Democratic Front (UDF) has revealed that its 2-day convention set to take place at Comesa Hall in Blantyre from August 1 is budgeted at K75 million.
UDF secretary general Kandi Padambo said in an interview the party has opened a special account where various ‘well-wishers’ are depositing funds in support of the convention.
Incumbent president Atupele Muluzi is the only notable candidate eying the highest position in the party.
A new National Executive Committee (NEC) is expected to be elected by delegates to the convention who according to the UDF constitution include all NEC members, party executive members, regional committee members and UDF members of Parliament (MPs).
Padambo said all positions are open and that more members keep coming forward to get nomination papers to contest for various positions at the convention.
According to the UDF Constitution, collection of nomination papers ends today to allow for a seven-day space requirement before the actual elections.
During the Malawi Congress Party (MCP) and Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) conventions in May and July this year respectively, incumbent leaders Lazarus Chakwera and Peter Mutharika were re-elected unopposed.
However, University of Livingstonia political analyst George Phiri said the fact that leaders in almost all major political parties are facing no opposition defeats democracy.
Balaka North legislator Lucius Banda who won the seat under the UDF ticket was the only member of the party who expressed interest to contest against Muluzi, only to announce his withdrawal last week.
He has since left the party and joined the United Transformation Movement (UTM) “to help push the agenda for change and support what he called youthful and visionary leadership”.
He cited issues of party ownership and unfair political grounds as some of the reasons why political party leaders in the country do not face contenders during conventions.
“As for my personal opinion, I think usually the playing field is never leveled. The issue of party ownership also makes some people uncomfortable to compete for the highest position in the party,” said Banda.
The legislator, who is also a musician, said while he can comfortably say he is part of UTM, he will soon make an official announcement on his joining the movement.
Banda is the only UDF MP who refused to move to the government benches in Parliament following the party’s working relationship with the governing Democratic Progressive Party, which led to Muluzi’s Cabinet appointment.
However, according to Padambo, only top 16 positions will be elected at the convention as some will be elected in UDF’s various political regions.
He explained: “The positions to be contested for including that of the President, deputy president, secretary general, deputy secretary general, treasure general, deputy treasurer general, national organising secretary, deputy national organising secretary, publicity secretary, deputy publicity secretary as well as national campaign director and deputy national campaign director.”
However, to ensure that aspiring candidates are committed and serious to stand, Padambo said the party has set nomination fees for aspiring party president to K1 million, secretary general K250 000 while for the treasurer general is K150 000.