The Blantyre City Council (BCC) on Thursday denied permission to United Transformation Movement (UTM) to hold a public rally at Nyambadwe Primary School ground in Ndirande which was planned for Saturday.
The movement which the country’s Vice-President Saulos Chilima is leading broke ranks with the governing Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) and declared he will challenge President Peter Mutharika in the presidential race in the May 21 2019 Tripartite Elections— was scheduled to hold the rally in the squatter township of Ndirande to continue its mobilisation ahead of the election.
BCC Director of administration Lytton Nkata on behalf of chief executive officer Alfred Chanza, could not grant the UTM a go ahead for the rally because it has learnt that the Registrar of Political Parties’ has rejected of its application to register as a party.
“We regret to inform you that permission is hereby not granted for the United Transformation Movement (UTM) to hold the rally on the ground that it has come to the Council’s knowledge that you are not registered asa apolitical party,” reads the letter from BCC to UTM’s national chairman Noel Masangwi.
“ As you are aware, Section 17 (2) of the Political Parties (Registration and Regulations) Act prohibits any political party or any combination that is not registered from electioneering or authorising any person to act on its behalf in connection with an election in which political parties contest,” reads the letter in part .
Deputy Registrar of Political Parties Chikumbutso Namelo  said in a letter dated September 21 2018 addressed to Ritz Attorneys, the law firm representing UTM, warned the movement that electioneering when it is not registered is an offence under the Political Parties Act. The offence is liable to a fine of MK2 000.
Electioneering, according to the Section 17 of the Political Parties Act, is not allowed unless a political party or “combination of persons” is registered.
BCC letter signed by Nkata said they have “evidence” which show that UTM has been holding similar rallies in the recebt past which were electioneering and it is likely that the intention of holding a rally at Nyambadwe groun is to continue electioneering while the UTM remains unregistered thereby knowingly committing an offence.
UTM interim secretary general Patricia Kaliati therefore  said in the movement would respect the registrar’s decision and respond within the given 21 days.
She said the party would proceed with the convention slated for November 9, 2018.
This is not the first time that a new political party challenging the status quo of a governing party has been in trouble with the Registrar of Political Parties.