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Unraveling the dilemma of MCP-UTM alliance

MCP-UTM alliance

As the fresh presidential election, sanctioned by the Constitution Court, is fast approaching, it is a well known fact that President Peter Mutharika will be the torchbearer of the DPP-UDF electoral alliance in the forthcoming election slated for July 2. The only mindboggling question is who will partner Mutharika as running mate?  Taking the alliance into consideration, one might think Atupele Muluzi, who is the leader of United Democratic Front (UDF), automatically qualifies for the running mate slot. But internal politics in the ruling DPP, point to something else. Mind you, adad is unpredictable. Something unprecedented might happen again on 7th May next week.

However, with Mutharika as obvious front-runner of DPP-UDF partnership, the only daunting task the DPP is faced with is that of choosing a running mate.  But this is not the case in MCP-UTM alliance. The almost equal political acumen of MCP’s Lazarus Chakwera and UTM’s Saulos Chilima have made the choice of torchbearer to be a very interesting exercise for officials from both camps. To MCP supporters, Chakwera is the best; to UTM supporters, Chilima is the best. And it is this pageantry that makes the bulk of this so called grand alliance to remain fragile.

But one thing is obvious: Chakwera and Chilima will share the top two positions. But, between the two, who is better placed to lead the alliance to victory? Well, on face value, one could argue that MCP is stronger than UTM; therefore, Chakwera must lead the alliance. I am also of the same view, but let’s ponder on upshot of having Chakwera as torchbearer of the alliance.

I say without fear or favour that Chilima is the only presidential candidate who has been approaching the electorate with a national face. It is undeniable fact that the DPP and MCP are constituted on regional and ethnic lines, and therefore, their accumulative votes always reflect that political incorrectness. Therefore, chances are high that the majority of young men, especially those from the south, who voted for Chilima cannot, at all cost, vote for MCP.  If Chilima was not on the ballot, they could obviously vote for Peter Mutharika. Similarly, those from the centre could vote for Chakwera if Chilima was not on the ballot. I can’t tell about the north. Now, the point I am driving at, is that the MCP-UTM alliance should expect a loss of good number of votes from the south if Chakwera is on the ballot.

Now, having said that you may be asking “is Chilima the right person to lead the alliance?” My answer is emphatically no! For the sake of achieving the intended purpose of the alliance, Chakwera has to carry the flag despite the aforementioned consequences considering the political developments that have taken place after the May 21 elections. Taking into account the vents that have taken place within the past seven months or so, it is obvious that regional and tribal division will be powerful determinants of the voting pattern in the coming election. This, therefore, presents a challenge to UTM cognizant of the fact that it as an urban phenomenon springing from working-class disillusionment, with few links to the grassroots. Suffice to say, UTM is a product of power struggles within the ruling DPP and has no stranglehold within the country’s three regions.

On the other hand, MCP and DPP have created structures at the grassroots and created links with prominent personalities who have sustained forms of pervasive clientelism and patronage. In view of that, UTM just need to complement one of the two to defeat the perceived common enemy. I, therefore, audaciously say that Chakwera is well positioned politically to lead the alliance, and swallowing pride on the part of UTM supporters is at the moment a necessity.

It is, therefore, the view if this writer that should Chakwera fail to pair with Chilima in an electoral alliance in preparation for the forthcoming fresh election, he and his MCP will still be in opposition after the July 2 2020 and the UTM will automatically be overshadowed by the growing prowess of young leaders of civil society organization that have already assumed the role of the opposition parties in the country’s multiparty democracy.  It is therefore incumbent upon the officials of both camps to therefore cement their union and face the advantaged DPP with a unified force. Otherwise, DPP will maintain its grip on power.

Views expressed in this article are those of the author


Maneno Chimulala
Maneno Chimulala
I am a journalist, educator, and activist with passion for telling stories about social justice, sports and political issues. I graduated from Mzuzu University. I started my career at the Maravi Post online publication in 2012 as an intern while in college. Upon graduating from Mzuzu University I was offered a job as Sports Reporter because of my background as a goalkeeper and rose to the position of sub editor. I also had a short stint with Nyasatimes, Malawi Punch and Malawi Digest. Over the past seven years, I have worked intimately with rural organizations and communities in Malawi on human rights, girl child education and grassroots development projects. With an academic background in education, I also volunteer as male champion for girls’ education under Girls Empowerment Networks (GENET) in Malawi’s South West Education Division (SWED).


  1. Probably you are right, but if Chilima is the national face or represents all regions in Malawi, why did he only amass 4 MPs during the 2019 elections? He didn’t perform any better, actually the parliamentary results puts him worse off than UDF and PP. I am not sure of his municipality results but I hope he did well which I doubt. DDP amassed more councillors than anyone and MCP came in second just a carbon copy of the parliamentary results.
    There is no double that MCP has bigger following than all the other smaller parties put together. It would make sense that the torch-bearing goes to MCP should the alliance materialise. Somehow, I see that everybody agrees that without any form of alliances, DPP is the majority and would win the re-election which then tells us that all the accusations of rigging are questionable.

    A re-run of an election doesn’t need any rearrangement of the status quo. A re-run should have been run on the same platform as it was previously held. Since the set up is being rearranged, this will not necessarily proof to us that the 2019 elections were rigged or were incompetently held. All it tells us is that the result didn’t meet people’s expectations. Parliamentary elections were fair, free and competently held, Local government elections were fair, free and competently held but presidential elections fell short of fair, free and competency. These elections were held on the same day and By the same people.
    Why Chakwera would not accept a junior position? Chakwera is the official opposition in parliament and has the second biggest following in the country behind DPP. He left his career to steer MCP to victory thereby leading the country as head of state. This is his only chance and also only chance for MCP’s survival. Should he fail to be the president now, that would be the end of his political career while Chilima has more time on his side,

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