Malawi Opposition DPP, UDF Plan Merger - Mpinganjira

21 September 2020

Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) and United Democratic Front (UDF) are planning a merger in which former president Peter Mutharika will lead and deputised by UDF's Atupele Muluzi until a national convention is held, according to DPP spokesman Brown Mpinganjira.

This is confirmed in a recent audio recording where Mpinganjira and a senior UDF official, Andrew Nkhana are discussing an intended merger.

In the audio, Mpinganjira informs Nkhana that it is only "KN" (Kondwani Nankhumwa) and Bright Msaka who are against the merger" because of fear of competition from Muluzi of UDF at the convention.

He emphasizes "the top (DPP) leadership are for it (merger)".

Recently, Muluzi --who was running mate for former president Peter Mutharika in the court-ordered June 23 Fresh Presidential Election--disclosed that his party will maintain its alliance with DPP up to the next general election.

Muluzi, who is son to former president Bakili Muluzi, said the two parties' alliance was important to ensure a strong opposition in the country.

Ernest Thindwa, a political science lecturer at University of Malawi's Chancellor College, said UDF is being pragmatic, realising winning an election with 50-percent-plus-one vote is a toll order if the party were to go it alone.

He said: "The absolute majority requirement to claim victory in the presidential race will tend to incentivise parties to seek electoral alliances."

The DPP and UDF working partnership goes back to Mutharika's five-year term from May 2014. The two parties went into a working arrangement to guarantee votes in the National Assembly and support the government's legislative agenda.

In that period, Muluzi held numerous ministerial positions. But in their arrangement pertaining to the fresh presidential election, Mutharika appointed three UDF members into various Cabinet positions, including Muluzi himself.

Currently, Mutharika is facing calls for an early convention to elect his successor after his defeat in the June 23 election. However, the former president has not taken lightly the calls and the party's central committee has since summoned secretary general Grezelder Jeffrey and others to disciplinary hearings.

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