Days after the controversial daylong UTM countrywide primary elections, about 22 executive district members for Karonga North-West constituency have defected from UTM to the ruling Democratic Progressive Party (DPP).
Making the announcement Sunday afternoon in Karonga, the constituency campaign director Ishmael Pembamoto said the decision to defect to DPP was arrived at after noting a lot of irregularities and undemocratic manner primary elections were conducted on January 3 in the constituency which went in favour of former cabinet minister in the DPP administration who is also the sitting member of Parliament for the area Vincent Ghambi.
Pembamoto said that both UTM district governess and political district governor kept a tight lid on the venue of the primary elections and transport arrangements despite them contributing transport costs, saying that led to chaotic primary elections as some of their members were not ferried to the venue of the primary elections.
He added that their list of names of delegates was not used which automatically denied victory of their candidate Hollace Mwakalinga.
“We have decided to avail ourselves to the shadow Member of Parliament Mungasulwa Mwambande to denounce out UTM membership before him so that we assure him of our support for the May 21 tripartite elections.
“We are 22 here and another 98 at a political district level that will be welcomed soon alongside the whole constituency party members so that we work together to develop our constituency through Mwambande who we feel will win the parliamentary seat and continue developing the area as he has already embarked on several developmental activities in the area,” he said.
Speaking after welcoming the UTM members, Mwambande hailed them for the wise decision made, saying they have come at the right time so that they start the journey together of developing Karonga North-West constituency from May 21 after the elections.
“You are home ladies and gentlemen and feel free. DPP is a democratic party that believes in values of tolerance. I therefore, welcome you to the party, I urge you to be free to bring in your sound ideas that will help us win the 2019 tripartite elections not only in Karonga North but the whole Malawi and soon l will take you to the party’s politburo,” Mwambande said.
However, in an interview, UTMs director of publicity Dr. Chidanti Malunga feigned ignorance about the defection of his party members to DPP.
Malunga, however, said if indeed it is true that some members have decided to switch posts then they are not true members of the party, saying if they were dissatisfied with primary elections as claimed they would have followed proper channels of lodging their complaints.
“I don’t think those were true UTM members. Had it been they were indeed genuine members who really believe in our values and ideologies they would have brought their concerns to the party’s NEC members who could have banged their heads together and see how best those issues could have been resolved.
“However, the party is still intact and is geared to win the 2019 elections with members that are there. UTM is not about two or three individuals, so it matters less when few people leave the party as it is their constitutional right,” Malunga said.