Opposition United Democratic Party (UDF) veteran executive member George Mtafu yesterday condemned the party’s convention held in Blantyre, saying it was rigged as positions were seeded in advance.
Mtafu, who was vying for the position of National Chairman, boycotted the polls at Comesa Hall at Chichiri and instead attended a Public Affairs Committee conference held across the city at Mount Soche Hotel.
He said in an interview that certain positions were seeded according to regions, adding there was a list of contestants already arranged to compete for the seeded positions.
Mtafu cited that the position of National Chairman was earmarked for contestants from the Southern Region, First Deputy National Chairman for Central Region and Second Deputy National Chairman for the Northern Region.
He said he could therefore not be allowed to contest for the position of National Chairman as he is not originally from the Southern Region, but from Likoma district in the Northern Region.
“I did not go there because I still feel the arrangement was rigged before it started,” Mtafu said.
He argued that as a party that has been struggling with divisions, the convention should have been used as a platform to reunite people, saying the seeding showed the divisions were still there in the party.
Mtafu said his failure to take part in the polls should be a concern to the party as he has been its dedicated member since July 17, 1993 when it was registered as a party.
He said he opted not to contest as doing so would be supporting regionalism in the party.
Earlier on Sunday, UDF Secretary General Kennedy Makwangwala said Mtafu had withdrawn from the race, but when contacted immediately, Mtafu disputed Makwangwala’s claim, saying he was not aware of the development and the party knew the truth about his candidature.
As we went to press yesterday, Atupele Muluzi, Minister of Economic Planning and son of former president Bakili Muluzi, was declared UDF National Chairman after polling over 90 percent of the vote.
His arrival attracted a deafening applause from delegates in the hall, unlike the arrivals of his challengers, former sports minister Moses Dossi and former Escom Human Resources Manager Ruth Takomana.
Certain positions went unopposed as they had no contenders. The occupants of the positions included Austin Kajiso Gondwe as Treasurer General, Foster Ntakama as Deputy Treasurer General, Second Deputy National Chairperson Victoria Mponela and Third Deputy National Chairperson Charles Chikuwo.
The total budget for the convention hit K38 million and Patel said this money came from the party’s members and well wishers.
President Joyce Banda was among those people who sent congratulatory messages to the UDF for holding the convention.
Meanwhile, a faction of the party headed by Friday Jumbe also boycotted the convention, saying it was aimed at sidelining members of the faction from taking positions.