The center of Saulos Chilima’s UTM can no longer hold as the party’s alliance falls into chaos barely two days after formation.
Hours after People’s Party unexpectedly withdrew from the electoral partnership with Saulos Chilima and UTM, this publication can confidently confirm that talks to have Atupele Muluzi to join arms with Chilima have also collapsed.
Chilima and Joyce Banda announced formation of an alliance on Friday last week. One of the major terms was that Chilima who would be the presidential candidate for the alliance would pick a People’s Party official as running mate. Names that given to Chilima to pick from are Joyce Banda, Roy Kachale or Ibrahim Matola.
However, Chilima changed tune and decided to pick a running mate from elsewhere. That has led to People’s Party withdrawing from the alliance immediately as they concluded that Chilima cannot be trusted. The party has made an official announcement of the withdrawal in a statement signed by the party’s spokesperson Ackson Banda.
The other reason the PP-UTM alliance has failed is that Chilima is facing a fierce rebellion from his inner circle that he did not consult on the alliance. Since the formation of the two-day alliance, there have been protests from the officials and followers because it was Chilima’s unilateral decision to strike the alliance with PP.
Following the collapse of the alliance, Chilima hastily arranged another alliance talks with Atupele Muluzi today. We can also reveal that the talks were brokered by Archbishop Thomas Msusa of the Catholic Church.
However, the talks have hit the wall as Atupele has refused the terms which Chilima put on the table. Chilima wanted Atupele to be his running mate but Atupele turned this down.
Atupele’s argument is that UTM does not have structures and cannot be the party to provide a presidential candidate in such an alliance.
Ken Ndanga, UDF Publicity Secretary, commented on a now deleted Facebook post that UDF was not desperate as the party has what he described as working game plan.
“UDF is not as desperate as others may think. It has a game plan which is workings perfectly well” said Ndanga.
However, we can also confirm that talks between DPP and UDF alliance hang in the balance due to Atupele’s failure to make a decision on his own.
Atupele who has been cabinet minister in the DPP government since 2014 has been discussing with DPP for an electoral alliance. But every time they agree terms, his father and former president Bakili Muluzi changes the terms – for his own motives.
In addition, the talks between Atupele and Chilima also collapsed because some bishops in the Catholic Church refused to support Archbishop Msusa in his brokering of the alliance.
Now that submission of nominations for presidential candidates has begun, Atupele is in the race against time to make a decision before Friday this week.