Opposition Malawi Congress Party (MCP) and UTM Party yesterday signed a deal to form an electoral alliance ahead of the Constitutional Court ordered fresh presidential election scheduled for May 19 2020.
In their speeches during the event that took place at Kamuzu Institute for Sports in Lilongwe, MCP president Lazarus Chakwera and his UTM Party counterpart Saulos Chilima avoided any indication on who will lead the alliance.
Pressed to disclose the alliance’s presidential candidate during an interview after the event, both leaders response was: time will come for such an announcement.
Meanwhile, speaking in a telephone interview yesterday Chancellor College political analyst Professor Happy Kayuni said Chakwera will likely lead the alliance in the poll because of the popularity of his party over UTM Party, which is less than two years old since its formation.
During the event that was punctuated by pomp and jubilation yesterday, there was little to separate the two opposition leaders as they arrived in the same open van wearing black suits and white shirts matched with red neckties. They both enjoyed the support of the multitude that exploded into jubilation as they made their way to the venue.
Chilima and Chakwera smiled continuously, raising the freedom fist high. At one point, the UTM Party leader was seen dancing to a soundtrack of blended political slogans.
During speeches, speakers either saluted Chilima first then Chakwera or they saluted Chakwera first then Chilima. The whole set-up revealed little until towards the end when Chilima spoke first before asking Chakwera to do so.
Ideally protocol requires that the main person at an event speaks last. In political party set-up, the president is the last one to speak.
However, in an interview Chilima was elusive: “Protocol is made by people and people can vary protocol.”
Said Kayuni: “I do not want to read into protocol but studies that we have done before show that MCP is more popular than UTM; hence, the most likely candidate to lead the alliance is Chakwera.
“But I think they do not want to announce such an arrangement now—to avoid antagonising some supporters who with time will get used to the arrangement.”
He observed that failure to announce the leadership of the alliance was a deliberate move not to be seen to be obsessed with positions and show supporters that the two care more about the country and not individual interest.
In his speech, Chilima stressed that the alliance does not mean the end of individual political parties, saying this was just a working relationship to achieve a common goal. He appealed to supporters to bury the hatchet and move forward as one unit.
The UTM leader said once the torchbearer is unveiled, all partners in this alliance should support them and that they should have faith in the alliance.
After his speech Chilima invited Chakwera to the podium. The two leaders shook hands to the excitement of the mammoth gathering.
The MCP president praised his UTM counterpart for his humility to accept to serve Malawians through the alliance.
He said this alliance is about saving people that have been starved of quality leadership.
Chakwera also censured President Peter Mutharika for refusing to assent to Electoral Reforms Bills and to fire commissioners of the Malawi Electoral Commission.
He challenged Mutharika, saying he will not succeed in suppressing the people’s will.
Speaking earlier, former president and People’s party leader Joyce Banda hailed Chakwera and Chilima for their approval of the alliance which she believes will serve Malawians better.
Banda particularly singled out MCP vice-president Sidik Mia for embracing the alliance.
Other parties that were represented at the event included Malawi Forum for Unity and Development (Mafunde), Alliance for Democracy (Aford), Freedom Party, Umodzi Party and People’s Transformation Alliance (Petra).n