By Nenenji Mlangeni
BLANTYRE-(MaraviPost)-The United Transformation Movement (UTM) is expected to appeal at the High Court the decision by Registrar of Political Parties to refuse to register the grouping as a political party in Malawi.
UTM filed the documents with the Registrar of Political Parties on September 13 2018 but the Registrar has rejected the application because “the application is not conformity with the [Political Parties] Act in terms of Section 7 (1) as read with Section 18(a) (1) and (ii) of the Act”.
Deputy registrar of political parties, Chikumbutso Numelo, said in the application UTM officials “consciously and deliberately submitted documents which carefully omit any reference to the full name under which they have been publicly holding out as [United Transformation Movement].”
Numelo said: “The publicly known fact that UTM is not a standalone name but an abbreviation for United Transformative Movement is a relevant matter which as Registrar of Political Parties with responsibility of registering and regulating political parties I have to take into account.”
But UTM leader Saulso Chilima said in a post on his Facebook page in quick reaction to the development that they will seek court help.
“The registrar of political parties is refusing to register us as a party but we’ll not relent. We have trust in our justice system and we will let the law take its course,” wrote Chilima
In a statement, UTM spokesperson Joseph Chidanti-Malunga said they “vehemently disagree” with the determination of the Registrar of Political Parties on a number of reasons and that they were not given an opportunity to be heard on the matter.
Malunga said they have instructed the movement’s legal counsel to file an appeal in the High Court against the determination of the Registrar.
UTM is appealing to its members, supporters and all well wishers to “remain calm as the situation is under control.”
But the deputy registrar pointed out that the decision to present registration documents in the name of UTM and not the full name, United Transformation Movement, from which the abbreviation UTM derives was “will fully intended to mislead the Registrar of political parties for purposes of obtaining registration of the party.”
Numelo believes the scheme “to mislead” the Registrar was motivated by the knowledge of the applicants of the existence of the United Transformation Party (UTP) being a name which resembles that of United Transformation Movement – which the Registrar would have considered in registering owing to Section 7 (b) (ii) – due to its similarities.
UTP is led by Newton Kambala, a businessperson and former president of Malawi Confederation of Chambers of Commerce and Industry (MCCCI), who is now in UTM and has been saying publicly that they rebranded to UTM.
The Registrar has also informed the applicants that it is an offence under Section 17 of the Political Parties Act to electioneer in connection with an election in which political parties contest unless it is a registered party.
Numelo said if UTM is not satisfied with the decision it can appeal to the High Court within 21 days.
UTP registered as political party number 50 on March 23 2016 and has been a key member of opposition political parties, primarily without parliamentary representation, that formed a coalition bloc dubbed ‘ Tikonze Dziko Lathu’ , to field a candidate during next year’s polls.
UTM, which started as Chilima Movement, and has been working with Wodya Zake Alibe Mlandu political grouping headed by Michael Usi, popularly known as Manganya. has maintained UTP’s red and gold colours, but changed other things such as the logo and motto.
They will hold their elective convention on November 9 2018 at a venue to be communicated later.
UTM activities will meanwhile continue and it is reported that they have a rally in Ndirande Township, Blantyre on Saturday.
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