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Tonse Alliance is an electoral alliance

Aford says Tonse Alliance just on paper

Alliance for Democracy (Aford) president Enoch Chihana says Tonse Alliance, as a governing entity, is just on paper as there are no defined roles for the partners.

He said the situation is making it difficult for the other eight parties to effectively contribute to the running of government.

Chihana: As Aford we do not know our role

In an interview on Friday, Chihana said what is coming out clearly after the June 23 2020 court-sanctioned presidential election is that the Tonse Alliance is an electoral alliance, “and not a governing one”.

He said: “As Aford, we do not know our role and responsibility in this alliance beyond elections. I guess that is also the case with others, but I cannot speak on their behalf.

“Out of this, we have learnt a lesson that perhaps it’s about time we had clear legal provisions which will guide operation of alliances. Partners must have defined roles.”

The Aford leader said the legal provision should also consider what happens after the alliance has failed to get the required number of votes to win the presidency.

“If no one gets the 50 percent-plus-one vote, do you have to maintain the same alliance/coalition or you can switch sides?

“We need to reflect on these questions and come up with a law that is in tandem with the Constitution. But we need the law to protect and guide alliances,” he said.

Chihana also proposed that the country should abolish the office of the Vice-President, because it does not serve any purpose, and it is a waste of time and resources.

He said the acrimony which has characterised the relationship between Presidents and their vices, since 1994 in Malawi, should have forced lawmakers to make serious reflections and amend the law to remove the Office of the Vice-President, and probably introduce one of the Prime Minister.

He said: “It is a useless office. I mean, you have to be delegated and usually delegation becomes a challenge because presidents are selfish. So, if you have a selfish President, you can be in that office for five years doing nothing.

“In the current case it is even more interesting because the Vice-President [Saulos Chilima] is a partner in an alliance. You cannot have your partner without delegated powers. This is why we need a law which will define roles and responsibilities in case the alliance gets into power.”

In June this year, President Lazarus Chakwera withheld delegated powers to Chilima over alleged corrupt practices with United Kingdom-based businessperson Zuneth Sattar.

Last month, the Anti-Corruption Bureau (ACB) arrested Chilima on the same corruption allegations.

Perceptions that the alliance in general is not functioning as a united bloc is also rife owing to the fact that there have been no quarterly meetings for the alliance partners as earlier agreed.

In July this year, alliance partners at an emergency meeting, also, said they felt sidelined and dwelt on weaknesses of the alliance, and how to strengthen entity.

Our efforts to seek views on the matter from UTM Party, Malawi Congress Party (MCP) and People’s Party proved futile as our questionnaires were not responded to.

Petra president Kamuzu Chibambo, who speaks for the Tonse Alliance, refused to comment on the matter.

However, political analyst Makhumbo Munthali while stressing that Chilima’s arrest and that of Chihana [in relation to alleged corrupt deals in supply of fuel deals at the National Oil Company of Malawi], have nothing to do with President Chakwera and MCP,  has surely put the Tonse Alliance in a quandary as some supporters are likely to view it as a political tactic to finish off the two.

“The future of the Tonse Alliance in view of Chilima’s arrest and recent developments in Parliament clearly point that not all is well between MCP and UTM.  Chilima and UTM may view the arrest as the work of the President and MCP to politically cripple him ahead of 2025 elections.

“But I do not think the arrest has anything to do with this despite that MCP might be the beneficiary. ACB has been clear in terms of the charges Chilima is answering. It’s now up to him to clear his name through the court process,” he said

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