Malawians are keen to pass their verdict on persistent socio-economic challenges of rising poverty, inequality, and high levels of youth unemployment.
BLANTYRE-(MalawianWatchdog)– On May 21, 2019 6, 856,295 Malawian voters will have the chance to elect their next president, Members of Parliament and ward councilors. In the run-up to the hotly contested elections, the political atmosphere has been charged by intense party campaigns, sporadic incidents of political violence, and rising expectations. Political tensions are also being fueled by the high stakes of the presidential election. The contest features the incumbent Peter Mutharika of Democratic Progressive Party (DPP), Dr. Lazarus McCarthy Chakwera of the main opposition Malawi Congress Party (MCP), serving Vice President Dr. Saulos Klaus Chilima of a newly formed UTM, Atupele Muluzi of the former ruling United Democratic Front (UDF), Peter Kuwani of Mbakuwaku Movement and others going on independent ticket. Nevertheless, from a pool seven presidential candidates, only three are considered frontrunners in 2019 Tripartite Elections. Mutharika, the incumbent president, Chakwera of MCP and youthful Chilima of UTM.
Most exciting moment
The biggest change and exciting moment to the political arena came when the serving Vice President Saulos Chilima parted ways with his boss Peter Mutharika thereby dumping the ruling DPP all together. Though it came as a surprise, but it was an obvious decision Chilima was expected to make looking at the sour relationship he had with the top DPP gurus. His stance to stand as presidential candidate in the 2019 elections completely changed the voting pattern in Malawi, and negatively affected the country’s two big parties—MCP and DPP. This meant that strategists of both two parties had to go back to the drawing board to plan on how best to handle the emerging enemy who came on the political scene with pomp and unimaginable confidence. DPP panicked considering the fact that much of the supporters of the new party were likely to be tapped from their basket. It was a heavy blow!
Issues that have taken centre stage during campaign
In their efforts to claim the plot number one, political parties came up with sugarcoated manifestos that could entice even the Jehova’s witness faithful to vote. However, much talk concentrated on ending corruption, creating employment for the youth, women empowerment, quota system of selecting students to various public universities and subsidies. On corruption, analysts suggest that DPP and UTM had no any moral obligation to talk about it, cognizant of the fact that corruption has reached alarming levels within the five years Peter Mutharika and Saulos Chilima have been on the driving seat. Chakwera, with his religious background was given a benefit of doubt. And again MCP has never been in power since the dawn of democracy.
Quota system, though some candidates called a spade by its name, was somehow tricky. If I were a candidate I could not mention it. In politics there some other things that are good but not necessary for bringing the intended votes, so you just ignore it deliberately. But many thanks to MCP and UTM for being brave and condemned it in the strongest terms. Your braveness is so amazing.
As statistics shows that more youth registered to participate in this year’s election, battle for votes from young men and women was so intense. There were so many promises for the youths including employment. Chilima promised 1 million jobs within one year but fell short on how he will do it. Mutharika maintained his stand on community technical colleges for the youths to gain various skills. While supporting the idea of technical colleges, MCP promised to revamp the economy thereby creating conducive environment for the youths to do various businesses. All in all, the trio have the same manifesto on youth empowerment and they have all signed the youth manifesto championed youth activist Charles Kajoloweka.
Predicting the outcome of the election
Who will come out on top after the 2019 election? MCP is said to have large following in the central region, which has the highest number of registered voters. DPP, on the other hand enjoys massive support in the Southern region. UTM is a new party, but its composition points to the fact that it will get a good number of votes in southern region as compared to central region. Since the northern region has no candidate in the race, they will likely vote “wisely” and obviously Chilima will triumph in the north. The northerners are likely to vote against DPP. MCP will come second in the north courtesy of Khumbo Kachali and former president Joyce Banda.
Declaration! MCP will make it on 21st May. Why? MCP loses elections because of their nerve-racking performance in the southern region. But in the run up to 21st May, MCP has made inroads in the region. They even won a parliamentary seat in Nsanje in the last year’s by elections. The coming of Sidik Mia and later Joyce Banda has a great impact in this year’s elections. In the eastern region, MCP has also made strides. In short, southern has become fragile and DPP should expect to win in the region with a narrow margin contrary to what has been the trend.
But what about aspirant who has inspired followers in the run up to 21st?
Well, when the Malawi Electoral Commission (MEC) blew the whistle to officially open the campaign period, men and women aspiring to take different leadership position had different meanings of the whistle. Many of them thought it was time to cheat the commoners while others thought it was time to talk about what they will do after being ushered into power. But Gerald Kazembe, a rare politician, had his own definition of the campaign. To him it was time to start doing what he will be doing when ushered into power. within three months, Kazembe has drilled boreholes in different villages in Mangochi Monkey-Bay constituency, people have health care services, teachers have houses, pupils have moved from the trees into school blocks, the youths have been empowered and the elderly are being taken care of. Just last week Kazembe commissioned a K5 million solar powered water pump. Hounorable Kazembe, would you please visit any place of interest on my bill. Thumbs up Gerald Kazembe!
Malawi Broadcasting Corporation (MBC), DPP cadets and Malawi Police have been an insult to the hard won democracy. Although MEC ordered MBC to give equal time to all political parties, the authorities of the public broadcaster chose to do the opposite in their pursuit of personal interest. There are numerous programs that are against the opposition parties. Steven Maseya, Hope Chisano, Phillip Business have proved to be the enemies of multiparty democracy. Your names have been recorded in the history of Malawi and history is never erased.
Of greater concern is the action, or lack of it, of law enforcement officers such the police. It is very unfortunate that political violence perpetrated by DPP cadets was not a concern for Malawi Police. Sometimes people of other political parties could be injured in full view of the police. You are really a disgrace to the nation of Malawi. Thumbs down MBC, Malawi Police, DPP cadets!