Major political parties are maintaining a tight lid on how they intend to contest the forthcoming presidential elections, in terms of pairing, with presentation of nomination papers by candidates planned for next week.
But in a clear indication of the tidings to come, UTM president Saulos Chilima and United Democratic Front (UDF) leader Atupele Muluzi had by yesterday not collected the nomination forms.
On the other hand, Malawi Congress Party (MCP) president Lazarus Chakwera and President Peter Mutharika of the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) are among the ten candidates that have collected the presidential nominations forms, according to Malawi Electoral Commission (Mec).
Mec Director of Media and Public Relations, Sangwani Mwafulirwa in an interview Friday said at least ten aspiring
candidates have collected nomination forms which they intend to present to the commission on Wednesday and Thursday next week after fulfilling all requirements that include collection of ten signatures of voters from each of the 28 districts of the country.
“On the total number of nomination forms collected I don’t have it now but last time I checked some days ago it was about 10. Last time I was given an update UTM and UDF had not collected any form that I would comfortably say is the situation.
“I can confirm that the two parties [MCP and DPP] collected nomination papers including Mbakuwaku Movement for Democracy,” he said.
However, Mwafulirwa said anybody aspiring to contest in the next fresh presidential polls is free to collect the forms before the deadline for the submission of the nomination papers.
The Constitutional Court on 3 February, 2020 nullified presidential polls that took place on 21 May 2019 and ordered that fresh presidential elections be held in the country within 150 days.
Following the judgment, the DPP entered into an alliance with UDF while on the other hand, UTM entered into an alliance with MCP in readiness for the elections.
If the announcement made by the Malawi Electoral Commission (Mec) on presentation of nomination papers from 6 to 7 May, 2020 is anything to go by, then Malawians have at least four days before they get to know torch-bearers for the alliance parties.
DPP spokesperson Nicholas Dausi asked for more time to consult.
However, UDF spokesperson Ken Ndanga said as an alliance they have agreed that President Peter Mutharika who is also DPP leader will be the torch bearer.
“In terms of the alliance we are ready for the presentation of nomination of papers as per Mec’s calendar. It is clear that the torch bearer is the president and we have agreed,” he said.
In recent weeks, there have been reports in the media of different people resigning from their respective positions in the UDF, raising eyebrows among the public as to whether things are working out within the DPP/ UDF partnership.
Our sources, who opted for anonymity, confided in us that most of the party members are disgruntled because what they had hoped for from the alliance with DPP seems to be taking a different turn.
“The alliance, which I can tell you was entered upon without thorough consultation, seems to be like the previous arrangements where only those at the top benefit with positions in government.
“We are not happy because we think this alliance will not lead into anything helpful that is why you have witnessed on several occasions members of the party joining others,” the source said.
However, UDF spokesperson Ken Ndanga trashed the sentiments by the members who have resigned further arguing that it is impossible for everyone in the party to be given a position in government because of the alliance.
“I do not know what they mean when they say those at the top are benefitting. As far as I am concerned I know of two resignations from the party and the other is just a resignation from his position. Again what kind of benefit are they talking about even if it was purely a UDF government it would not have been possible for everybody to be appointed into a position,” he said.
A source in the UTM and MCP alliance told us that they are keeping a tight lid because nobody is quite certain on when the elections will be and as such, they have to be strategic on how they announce their moves.
“The issue is, we are not sure when the elections will be. And if we announce who the running mate or torch bearer will be, we have to stick to the decision. Currently, since we do not know when the elections will be, we will keep it like this.
“When we reveal, we have to be sure that we are going into elections. We believe the time is not right yet. When you look at all the parties you will see that no party has come out clear in regards to their candidates,” the source said.
MCP secretary general Eisenhower Mkaka said in their alliance, they feel they are on course and everything is happening as per their action plan.
“We will be able to tell Malawians in a timely fashion who the torch bearer will be and who the running mate will be. It is not true that members within the alliance are disgruntled.
“This alliance was party member-driven and it came into being because Malawians wanted all opposition parties to come together. To say there are individuals who do not like the alliance then that is not true,” he said.
And UTM spokesperson Joseph Chidanti Malunga concurred with Mkaka, saying when the time is right; they will come out in the open to announce candidates for the alliance.
“We are doing everything possible which we feel is right. I know the issue that people are talking about and would want to know regarding the issue of running mates.
“Let us just wait because the Malawi Electoral Commission (Mec) has issued out dates when the nomination papers will be presented. So let us just wait and see otherwise we are ready,” he said.
On collection of nomination papers Chidanti Malunga declined to comment on the matter.
Chancellor College based political analyst Mustapha Hussein encouraged the alliances to come out in good time so as to prepare Malawians in as far as decision-making is concerned.
“My comment is that there is need for the alliances to tell the public on who will be the torch bearer and running mate. It is important because it would help in decision-making and again the marketing of the candidates will be easy if it made to the public in good time,” he said.
UTM president Saulos Chilima and Malawi Congress Party leader Lazarus Chakwera went to the court challenging May 21 2019 presidential election, saying it was marred by irregularities.
According to Mec, President Peter Mutharika got 1,940, 709 votes against Chakwera’s 1,781, 740 votes and Chilima’s 1,018, 369 votes.
The Constitutional Court on February 3 nullified May 21 2019 presidential election and ordered fresh election 150 days from the day of the verdict.