Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Opposition UDF party dragged to court

By Wezzie Nkhoma-Somba

The United Democratic Front (UDF) Blantyre Urban Committee has dragged the former ruling party to High Court for dissolving the committee and imposing K2, 000 nomination fee for the candidates in the party’s forthcoming district elections without approval the National Executive Committee.

According to court documents dated July 1, 2010, the committee through Watson Malindi, is asking the court to order and declare whether the party’s national working committee had the powers to dissolve the Blantyre UDF Urban District Committee or merely to make its recommendations to NEC and whether the defendants were justified in dissolving the said committee under article 32 of UDF’s Constitution.

Malindi is also asking the court to declare whether the said district committee could be dissolved without being accorded the rules of natural justice under article 32 of the UDF constitution by the district committee and whether UDF’s national working committee has power if any to dissolve the Blantyre Urban Committee in the absence of proof of any contraventions of the UDF constitution.

The Blantyre district committee is also asking the court to declare whether UDF, s National working committee has the power to impose K2, 000.00 fee for candidates in UDF District Elections without approval of NEC.

UDF Secretary General Kennedy Makwangwala confirmed to The Nation early last week about the K2,000 nomination fee, saying it is enshrined in the UDF constitution and that the money will not go into the party coffers but rather will be given back to district for the day to day running of the structures.

However, UDF Task Force National coordinator Ken Msonda said that the issue of nomination fee was discriminatory and retrogressive and that it may be a political move aimed at frustrating other aspirants within the party.

UDF spokesperson Rob Jamieson wondered where Malindi was coming from saying he does not appear anywhere as a member of UDF.

Jamieson explained that UDF NEC has mandate to make any decisions on behalf of the party.

Commenting on the issue of dissolving district committees UDF Secretary General Kennedy Makwangwala said that it is a positive move that will help in rebuilding the party as it tries to reclaim its the lost glory. He further said that this development is long overdue as the party has gone a long time without holding elections.

Meanwhile, in a statement Makwangwala has stressed that the party has sections within its constitution that provide for collection of nomination fees from its members particularly those that voluntarily elect to take part in a leadership contest.

“The nomination fees that are subject of the statement are meant to help the party undertake logistical preparations to facilitate the holding of the elections of office-bearers of the districts committees and such other committees. Suffice to indicate that the remainder of the money collected shall be allocated to the incoming district committees as a starter-pack with which to kick-start their political operations,” he said.

Makwangwala added: “The present modus operandi is such that the National Headquarters or senior members of the NEC provide financial assistance to districts committee to meet the cost of funerals, treatment of sick members, payment of various donations or, indeed, for holding party meetings. This practice is becoming unattainable during these difficult economic times as the party has a large membership. The party has to break with some practices of the past that are difficult to sustain.”

He said the issue of nomination fee is provided for in the UDF constitution as amended in 2008 and the subject has been thoroughly discussed with members.

Makwangwala explained that to remove discrimination that might arise due to some serious contenders’ failure to secure nomination fees.“The party has included a proviso that allows eligible leaders proven without means to ask for exemption where individuals are not able to source nomination fees to take part in the electoral process,” he said in a statement dated July 2-The Daily Times

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