Balaka North legislator Lucius Banda (United Democratic Front- UDF) has withdrawn from the UDF presidential contest, just days before the party’s convention.
Banda had previously said he would challenge UDF president Atupele Muluzi at the party’s national convention scheduled for August 1 at Comesa Hall in Blantyre.
But in an interview yesterday, the legislator, who is also a musician, said he made the decision to pave the way for Muluzi who has also shown interest for the hot seat.
Banda said he remains a UDF member and will contest for another position at the convention.
He said: “I have pulled out of the presidential contest because my intentions to contest for presidency came because the incumbent was not active.
But of late, I have seen that he has become active by conducting rallies, among others. So I feel duty bound to support him. But I will contest for another position in the party which I will announce in due course.”
But in a separate interview, UDF public secretary Ken Ndanga expressed ignorance of Banda’s decision.
He said the legislator’s withdrawal brings the number of people contesting for the party’s leadership to three, including Muluzi.
“He [Banda] hasn’t told me anything about it. But the secretary general has told me that he received three letters [applying for presidency], including the incumbent [Muluzi] and two other Malawians living in Tanzania and South Africa,”
According to Ndanga, the nomination fees for aspiring party president is K1 million, secretary general K250 000 while for the treasurer general is K150 000.
He said the fee is to ensure that aspiring candidates are committed and serious to stand.
In an interview yesterday University of Livingstonia political analyst George Phiri said Banda’s withdrawal is an indication that he has lost trust in the party and its leadership.
“Most likely he may be thinking of moving on from that party or completely resigning from politics. At this time, I don’t think he would have withdrawn from the competition when all along he has been aspiring to become president. He has been saying the party has lost direction and he wanted to take over the leadership to rectify the situation. So, I think he has lost trust in leadership and the party,” he said.
Banda is the only UDF legislator 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. n