Once upon a time, in the land of flames, there lived a party that was upfront with democracy as it was united. It was even national in its representation in parliament. That yellow party ruled Malawi for a good ten years before it started getting tattered like curtains due to succession issues when the then leader was parking for retirement.
That is chronicle of the once-upon-a-time mighty United Democratic Front (UDF) of Malawi’s former President Bakili Muluzi. The handpicking of Bingu wa Muthalika; a rank-outsider, to be the party’s torch-bearer in the 2004 elections marked the beginning of the end of the united front. Today, UDF remains a two-districts’ party in parliamentary representation. The rest, as they say, is history.
Being in the wilderness for almost seven years one would think the yellow party picked up its lessons and would let democratic processes flow back into the party. But nay, I was wrong.
Barely 24hrs after Austin Atupele Muluzi, MP announced his intentions to compete for nominations as Presidential candidate at the party’s convention; the execuitve has cracked its whip on the 33-year old law maker: suspending him for what the party’s Director of Research, Humphrey Mvula calls ‘Indiscipline’.www.zodiakmalawi.com
For starters, Atupele is the son of the fomer President Bakili who ruled Malawi for a decade and led UDF for a little longer beyond 2004. Atupele has been a law since 2004. His performance as a parliamentarian is subject for another day!
On September 29 2011, Atupele alunched what he called a ‘New Agenda for Change’ at Blantyre’s Mt Soche Hotel. It is in this address that he bemoaned the lack of democratic processes in chosing political party leaders. He empahsized on the need to ‘pursue political party reforms to allow for freedom of exchange of ideas, transparent election of leaders and responsiveness to party membership’. Atupele Muluzi- New Agenda for Change And in the end, he declared his interest to run for the party’s nominations as presidential aspirant at their forth-coming convetion.
But alas, this has earned the ambitious politician the whip from the UDF’s old guards. Now tell me; who in this world of the Obamas, Cameron, Sarkozy is mandated to thwart young people’s ambitions? Do they want to tell me that political ambitions are only for the old? What happened to ‘democracy’ in their name? Or are UDF trying to go with the Malawian fashion as defined by the Malawi Congress Party(MCP) and Democratic Progress Party (DPP)?
I can forgive MCP since they have never confessed to be democratic; at least going by their name; but DPP and UDF? No way!
In Atupele’s own words: ‘… I believe the power to elect a presidential candidate for the UDF party rests in the hands of the people through a free and fair process’. How I wish the UDF executive could heed to young Muluzi’s belief. W
The irony of it all is that the current crop of UDF executive blamed Bakili for imposing wa Muthalika and thereby disintergrating the party. But with their actions, are they not further weakening the already sinking party? Will the youth, who are known of being ambitious, with the ‘disciplinarians’? Only time will tell!