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Campaign hots up

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By Rebecca Chimgeka:

With four days before Malawi Electoral Commission (Mec) launches official campaign period ahead of May 21 Tripartite Elections, details have emerged that some political parties are planning to take the campaign to a new level.

Malawi News has established that Malawi Congress Party (MCP) is likely to use helicopters when the campaign period starts.

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Two sources who corroborated each other but opted for anonymity said they are in talks with private aviation companies outside the country for hiring choppers for their leaders during the campaign.

The sources said they expect the party to perform well in the elections as the helicopters will help them speak to thousands of Malawians, especially in hard-to-reach areas.

 “We are in talks with private aviation companies to hire choppers as per our budget, the choppers will be extensively used by our president Lazarus Chakwera for campaigning. The other one will be used by our vice-president Sidik Mia,” said one source.

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Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) spokesperson Nicholas Dausi said his party is ready to use any means in order to reach their voters.

And when asked the means of transportation in order to reach hard-to-reach areas, Dausi did not disclose the means.

“Just like all the parties that are contesting in the May elections, the Democratic Progressive Party has been displaying its fleet of vehicles, bicycles and buses, which they intend to use during the campaign period,” he said.

United Democrat Front (UDF) spokesperson Ken Ndanga said they are ready to reach the grass roots with the resources they have.

“We are ready to reach our voters in a UDF way and style,” he said.

UTM secretary general Patricia Kaliati said the party will continue using strategies they have already started employing.

“Our manifesto uses a bottom-up approach. We have managed to get in touch with the grass roots. We are taking UTM to the people and we will continue doing that,” she said.

Malawian registered voters will on May 21 queue to elect president, members of Parliament and ward councillors.

The number of presidential hopefuls confirmed by Mec has gone down to eight after People’s Party president Joyce Banda pulled out of the race in the polls and instead endorsed Chakwera.

About 6.59 million voters are expected to vote this year, with over half of the eligible being youths and women.

According to a statement released by Mec on March 12 signed by Chief Elections Officer Sam Alfandika, the electoral body will Tuesday launch official campaign at Bingu International Convention Centre in Lilongwe.

“The launch will be held under the theme “Consolidating Malawi’s Democracy through Peaceful Campaign”. During the launch, the Commission will brief delegates on the state of preparedness for the elections. The Centre for Multiparty Democracy (CMD) will also make a presentation on “Regulation of Handouts during Campaign”.

“All Candidates, party members and the general public are invited to the event but MEC will not reimburse expenses,” reads part of the statement.

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