UTM Holds akey of Tonse 2025
UTM Party’s mysterious silence has weakened its electoral strength ahead of the 2025 general elections, political and governance commentators have said.
But UTM spokesperson Felix Njawala played down the issue, arguing that many people do not know what they are doing behind the scenes.
Major political parties such Malawi Congress Party (MCP), Democratic Progressive Party (DPP), Alliance for Democracy (Aford) and United Democratic Party (UDF) have been holding meetings, restructuring and strengthening their governance structures and planning conventions to choose their torch-bearers during the elections but UTM remains unheard.
Governance commentator Mavuto Bamusi claimed in an interview on Wednesday that the hegemonic behaviour of MCP has overshadowed UTM.
He argued that over-reliance on its leader Saulos Chilima and resignation of key figures such as Frank Mwenifumbo have worsened the matter.
“Chilima seems everything to UTM and without him, it seems the party cannot do anything,” said Bamusi.
Mwenifumbo, who was UTM publicity secretary, resigned in November 2022, claiming he wanted to concentrate on his businesses.
According to Bamusi, MCP is working tirelessly to do away with Chilima who is a potential candidate for the 2025 presidential election.
On what must be done to regain its position, he said: “UTM Party must grow beyond Chilima.”
Political analyst Ernest Thindwa agreed with Bamusi that UTM needs to be visible if it is to go solo in the 2025 general elections.
“UTM needs to reaffirm its electoral strength and sell itself to the highest bidder, more likely between MCP and DPP, given the current party configuration and electoral support dispensation,” he said.
Thindwa argued that the uncertainty surrounding Chilima’s corruption case has fractured UTM further; hence, it will not be easy to sell itself to the electorate.
He, however, said with the “big man” syndrome which dominates the country’s political landscape, he had no doubt Chilima will find his foothold.
But Njawala argued that UTM cannot emulate what other political parties are doing.
He claimed they have a winning strategy which is currently not for public consumption.
When asked whether UTM will go solo during the 2025 elections, Njawala said: “At an appropriate time, very soon, we will communicate our position.”
He urged UTM supporters to remain calm as “very soon” they will take a stand on whether or not to remain in the Tonse Alliance.
Politician-cum-commentator Humphrey Mvula in a telephone interview on Friday said UTM is caught between a rock and a hard place.
While UTM claims to be silently strategising, he argued that Chilima will still find it difficult to lead the party ahead of the 2025 polls.
MCP, UTM and seven other political parties formed the Tonse Alliance ahead of the June 23 2020 court-sanctioned fresh presidential election which booted out the erstwhile governing Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) from power.
Two years into government, UTM and MCP leaders and supporters have been making scathing remarks signalling bad blood between them.
During the opening of the Malawi Bureau of Standards office complex and the International Trade Fair in Blantyre on Wednesday, UTM and MCP supporters clashed over who should receive President Lazarus Chakwera at the event.
In his address at Kamuzu Upper Stadium, Chakwera condemned the clashes and asked for political tolerance between them
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