Clandestine battle in Tonse Alliance ahead of 2025 elections

As it marks four years since the creation of the Tonse Alliance, comprising the Malawi Congress Party (MCP) United Transformation Movement-UTM and other parties, currently governing the country under the leadership of MCP’s President, Dr. Lazarus Chakwera, some members of the alliance are reaffirming that just as all things must eventually come to an end, the Tonse Alliance will reach its end in 2025.

Speaking in an interview with Our News Platform Mw, MCP spokesperson Ezekiel Ching’oma said that the party’s national executive committee (NEC), having already affirmed President Lazarus Chakwera as the presidential candidate, will convene to reassess and establish new arrangements by 2025.

He said: “It should be emphasised that this agreement does not extend beyond that specified period. Consequently, the NEC will convene again to discuss and plan for the future.

“It is essential to reconvene and engage in constructive discussions to formulate a fresh agreement that encompasses all the parties we intend to collaborate with.

“This will allow us to establish a renewed and comprehensive alliance, ensuring a strong and unified front for the years to come.”

Ching’oma acknowledged occasional disagreements among MCP and UTM supporters on social media platforms, but said Chakwera and Chilima have closely worked together to achieve common goals.

However, UTM spokesperson Felix Njawala said an announcement regarding the alliance will be made at an appropriate time.

He maintained that the alliance remains strong.

Again, Njawala expressed concern about certain members within the alliance who communicate as if they are not part of it.

This comes as Malawi Congress Party-MCP and UTM have not held any discussions after the latter’s leader, Dr. Saulos Chilima told the nation in an emotional press briefing in July 2022 that he would be the Alliance’s torchbearer during the 2025 general elections.

Chilima said their Political Alliance Agreement was for 10 years, in which both President Lazarus Chakwera and himself are expected to support each other to lead for one-term.

“That subject to the decision of the national executive committees or conventions, as the case may be, of the UTM and the Malawi Congress Party, the presidential candidate during the fresh presidential election of 23 June 2020 shall not be the presidential candidate during the immediate next election and shall cede the candidacy to the running mate in the fresh presidential election of June 23 2020,” said Chilima.

But MCP vehemently denied the existence of such a deal while pledging to produce a genuine agreement document on their partnership.

In his remarks, Governance expert, Mabvuto Bamusi argues the situation signals the collapse of Tonse Alliance and the failure of the agreement which led to the formation of the grouping.

“It also signals the deepening sense of power struggle over the presidency come 2025 elections. Statements made by SKC insinuate that he was the one to be torch bearer for 2025 election for Tonse. However this has fallen apart,” said Bamusi.

He suspected that UTM would be thinking of going alone to 2025 elections but with possibilities of entering an alliance with other parties such as Democratic Progressive Party-DPP.

Added Bamusi: “These dynamics will cause intraparty instability and conflicts such as the one happening in DPP, thereby taking away attention from managing national affairs as politics will take center stage.”

Commenting on the matter, political analyst Wonderful Mkhutche said UTM would be making a serious blunder not having a clear stand from its partner; saying some of their supporters voted for Chakwera on the promise that their leader would lead in 2025.

“We should admit that Saulos Chilima and UTM were key when the Tonse Alliance won the Fresh Presidential Election in June 2020. This admission is a bitter reality to UTM supporters that the campaign was built on a lie and it will be hard for the party to win back people’s trust.

“As time nears the next election, we should expect open statements from UTM and MCP distancing themselves from the alliance.

“To this date, we have already seen the two parties advancing their own agenda for the 2025 election and it is just a matter of time before they formally part ways,” said Mkhutche.

Mkhutche said Chilima’s address had put the Alliance on rocks; saying “here are men and women that set off for Canaan, but they have decided to start butchering each other along the way”.

On March 19, 2020, Dr. Chakwera and Dr. Chilima signed the agreement to form the alliance in preparation for the 2020 fresh presidential election following the nullification of the 2019 election by the High Court due to serious irregularities.

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