UDF: What does Jumbe want?


For the first time in a while, after nearly being relegated to the dustbin of history, UDF decided to be taken seriously this week.

The yellow party conducted a fairly successful convention, attracting delegates from as far as Likoma Island.

Now, party conventions, especially elective ones, are supposed to be treated as holy ground, not only by commentators like me but more especially the leaders of the parties themselves.

Simply put, conventions are supreme because it is where the owners of the party, the rank and file, fulfil a democratic function of picking leaders of their choice to lead them.

For UDF, with all its past squabbles over leadership, I always thought the convention was an opportune time for its membership to put a stop to the unnecessary infighting by giving an unquestionable mandate to leaders of their choice.

To my dismay and that of many Malawians, caretaker leader Friday Jumbe and his rag-tag band of cheerleaders decided to wreck this process to fulfil their selfish motives.

Jumbe went to the High Court twice seeking an injunction to stop the convention. Luckily, the court decided to serve the higher good of democracy and not the individual inner motives and rejected this naked selfishness.

Now Jumbe is up in arms declaring the convention, which chose Atupele Muluzi as UDF chairperson and presidential candidate, illegal and undemocratic.

He has taken a vow to fight on. I do not know what else he wants to do after being whacked across the face by the High Court.

Jumbe’s main problem is that he thinks former president Bakili Muluzi wrote the script and directed the UDF convention by funding it with a view that it should elect his son, Atupele, as chairperson and presidential candidate.

He wants to be an undisputable champion against creating political dynasties in Malawi.

While some Malawians may support him on this, my view is that he is partly to blame and because of his lack of focus and procrastination, he has allowed the party to be taken over by the pro-Muluzi faction.

Jumbe took over the party in an acting capacity in 2009 after the general elections.

Instead of stamping his authority by mobilising its membership and stage a convention to regularise his mandate, he was busy indulging in petty quarrels with his unmerited detractors.

If he accuses Muluzi of funding the convention, why did he not fund it himself since 2009?

At the end of it all, Jumbe is not looking good politically He cannot fight against and, without shame, tag a convention that attracted over 2 000 delegates from all over the country.

That was a democratic process at play and Jumbe should not cheat Malawians that it was not so because many would not buy such a miserable line.

He has himself to blame for being a weak leader who seemed not to know his right from his left.

As for Atupele being chosen to lead UDF, I only see one thing of benefit and it is the fact that the presidential field in 2014 will be very interesting.

For the first time, we might have completely new faces on the ballot and the election fought on ideas and not on regions.

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