Young Democrats (United Democratic Front) (Malawi)

Country: Malawi
Details of Formation: The Young Democrats were formed at the height of Malawi's struggle for human rights and democratic reforms in 1993. They were a youth wing of various groupings rallying against dictator Kamuzu Banda’s regime. The date formed refers to the date when Muluzi won the elections with the United Democratic Front (UDF).
Details of Termination: On February 5, 2005 President Bingu Mutharika, who previously was elected on May 20, 2004 as UDF candidate, left the party and created a new party (PPP). The UDF did not have a majority in parliament, and was not involved in the government anymore.
Purpose: The Young Democrats’ main purpose was to intimidate political opposition to the United Democratic Front with which the Young Democrats were aligned. The Young Democrats were regularly active against opposition members and critical journalists, fulfilling their purpose. The UDF allegedly commanded some of the attacks, but denies involvement.
Organisation: The Young Democrats were allegedly led by UDF executive member Humphreys Mvula, though Mvula denies these allegations. On at least one occasion, the president’s advisor Dumbo Lemani assembled and led the group. The group operates from their homes and is organised in committees at national, regional, district and constituency levels, being present in all 193 constituencies. The ruling UDF party allegedly sponsors the Young Democrats’ political violence.
Weapons and Training: The Young Democrats have petrol, matches, pangas, knives and guns.
Size: A news source of 2002 reports that the president’s advisor had assembled a group of between 1,000-3,000 militant members of the UDF for an action against journalists. There are no other estimates on the complete group size of the Young Democrats.
Reason for Membership: --
Treatment of Civilians: The Young Democrats used violent actions (especially beatings) against opposition supporters, journalists and civilians. These actions were committed in the name of the president and the UDF; they ordered many of these actions. The police did not interfere in the Young Democrats’ actions.
Other Information: --
References: Information was taken from news sources listed in the PGMD.