United Democratic Front (UDF) has downplayed the departure of three of its top officials, describing it as ‘good riddance’.
The party’s second vice-president, who was long time director of research Humphrey Mvula, deputy secretary general Hophmally Makande and deputy treasurer general Ronald Chanthunya have dumped the party and the latter two have joined People’s Party.
Mvula has not indicated his next direction, but reports say he is heading to the same PP.
Secretary general of the party Kennedy Makwangwala has confirmed the exit of the three, saying it is good riddance. The party’s first vice-president Sam Mpasu said it is not surprising that members are going to PP because they are looking for survival.
Said Makwangwala on Tuesday: “We knew that they were going. They were weakening the party. They left the party long time ago although they claimed to be there. That is very good riddance. We have been going very strong without them”.
Makwangwala said Mvula wrote the party indicating his withdrawal of membership. Makande and Chanthunya were unveiled as PP members at a meeting in Mangochi over the weekend.
Mpasu said the defection of the officials is not a new phenomenon in Malawi as some of them are habitual defectors. He said they may have been frustrated seeing no future but, he added, the party remains unshaken.
“Whenever there is a new government, people rush to it to make their food. Some of them are habitual defectors. Is any of them higher than the national chairman? This is not the end of the party. The party is bigger than an individual,” said Mpasu.
Mpasu said UDF began declining after the failed 2000 open term bid because some people left.
The former president Bakili Muluzi wanted an open term for the presidency so that he could remain in power but the bid was shot down by his own party officials.
He said although some members may feel frustrated in the party, he could not defect to any party.
Chanthunya, who was also Member of Parliament for Balaka West, said on Tuesday his defection to PP was on personal reasons.
“I wrote UDF about my decision. The reasons are personal. I have joined PP,” said Chanthunya.
Makande also confirmed going to PP and said he was simply exercising his birth right of freedom of association. He refused to comment on the remarks from Mpasu and Makwangwala.
Asked if the exodus would not kill the party, Makande said: “Is the party there?” He declined to go into details. Mvula was not available for comment.
The party is running in parallel with two camps. One camp is led by Friday Jumbe as president while the other led by secretary general Makwangwala. The new Joyce Banda administration has appointed some of the party’s MPs into her Cabinet leaving party supporters wondering if the party is alive or not.
MP for Machinga North East Atupele Muluzi, who advanced agenda for change campaign and won the hearts of many, is one of the Cabinet ministers and since then, he is quiet on the campaign.