UTM ‘biggies’ step aside

  • Masangwi, Msowoya, Makondinot contesting for party positions

As the new kid on the block, UTM Party, goes to its first-ever elective conference on December 17 2018, some pioneers of the movement will not contest for positions in the party, Weekend Nation has established.

Not vying for any position: Masangwi (L)

The party says, among other things, the highlights of the convention would be to elect office bearers, ratify the party’s constitution and part of its manifesto.

But the party’s interim chairperson Noel Masangwi, interim treasurer general Richard Makondi, Speaker of National Assembly Richard Msowoya, have all indicated that they will not vie for any position at the convention.

Msowoya: I am serving as Speaker

Vice-President Saulos Chilima is expected to vie for the position of the party’s president, while the interim secretary general Patricia Kaliati and interim publicity secretary Joseph Chidanti-Malunga are likely to try their luck to legitimise their positions.

Founding president of United Transformation Party (UTP), Newton Kambala and Michael Usi, leader of Wodyazake Alibe Mlandu movement will be vying for the positions of treasurer general and director of strategic planning in UTM, respectively, according to them.

Kambala’s intention to contest for the position of treasurer general contradicts an announcement yesterday, purportedly issued by its secretary general William Jalani, which alleged that all UTP members would not contest for any position at the UTM conference.

Kambala, in an interview yesterday, confirmed he had not changed his intention to contest for the position of UTM treasurer general.

Jalani could not be reached as we went to press.

UTP and UTM have been working together closely since the formation of the latter as a movement. The two parties also use the same colours.

For UTM presidency: Chilima

In separate interviews, Masangwi, Makondi and Msowoya all confirmed that they were not contesting for any position in the party. citing almost similar reasons that they have contributed enough in the party politics.

But unlike Msowoya, who is not contesting in the May 2019 parliamentary elections, both Makondi and Masangwi have indicated they will have a go at the elections.

“I can confirm that I am not contesting at the elective conference for any position in UTM. However, I will be available for the party,” Masangwi said.

On his part, Makondi said he was not contesting for any position at the convention but insisted that he was still part of the UTM and that he will be participating in the party’s activities.

“I just feel I should serve the party at a different level. I intend to contest as a member of Parliament, so I have stepped aside to allow others to participate in the party at other levels,” he said.

Makondi said by not taking part in the elections it does not mean that the members have changed their allegiance to the party.

Msowoya, on his part, also said he was not presenting himself for election because he feels after serving government as an MP and Speaker of the National Assembly he thought he should step aside to pave the way for others to lead the party.

“I think of serving the party at any position without necessarily having an office,” he said.

Usi, popularly known as Manganya also confirmed he will contest for a party position.

Spokesperson of the convention organising committee Lowani Loga told Weekend Nation that all positions in the executive committee of the party were up for grabs except the position of vice-president, which would be occupied by the person to be picked as the running mate.

“The list of the aspirants will be published,” said Chidanti-Malunga, adding that he would not say off the head who was contesting for which position.

Loga also confirmed that some of the founding members of UTM, would not be contesting at the elective conference, but said it was part of transformation in politics.

“Every person knows his or her strengths and weaknesses. It is not about holding positions in the party. Transformation politics is about working for the party. We are transforming the way politics is done,” he said.

Political analyst Henry Chingaipe said it is strange for Malawi politics that the pioneers had chosen not to contest at the party’s elections, but said in the absence of information, “it is possible that those not contesting want to demonstrate that they can start a thing and hand it over to others; it is also possible that they have cases to answer and that they do not want, should government pounce on them, to affect the operations of the party.

“It is also possible that the competition is stiff and they do not want to be embarrassed when they lose at the convention,” he said.

On the running mate to the president becoming an automatic vice-president of the party, Wits University-based political analyst Michael Jana said there was no problem for a political party having internal arrangements as long as members of the party know, follow and agree on those internal arrangements.

He was of the view that UTM could have gone to the convention with the proposal that the delegates should make decisions.

On the running mate becoming a vice-president, Jana said it was a tricky terrain for UTM because it will mean that if the party would go into an alliance and the position of running mate is offered to the other party, UTM will have no vice-president.

“If the running mate is selected by the president and automatically become the vice-president that would create a concentration of power to the chairmanship of the party,” he said.

UTM was registered as a political party early last month after the court ordered the registrar of political parties to register the party when he had rejected its applications because of the name. n

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