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Councils gear up for elections

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Election fever has gripped Malawi’s three major city councils of Blantyre, Lilongwe and Mzuzu as they take to the polls on January 9, 2017 to elect new office bearers.

Major political parties are reportedly throwing their weight behind different candidates with an aim of clinching the highest offices of mayor and deputy in at least one if not all of the councils.

The Mayors Noel Chalamanda of Blantyre, Lilongwe’s Willie Chapondera and William Mkandawire of Mzuzu face their first litmus test as they all seek re-election after a two and a half-year term of office in what promises to be highly contested elections.

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In Mzuzu for instance, Mkandawire will face the only woman contestant, Judith Chiumia, who represents Choma Ward, Dennis Moyo of Mchengauutuba West and a yet-to be unveiled official candidate endorsed by the ruling Democratic Progressive Party (DPP).

Interestingly, both Chiumia and Moyo belong to the blue camp whose Regional Governor, Kenneth Sanga, maintains the party is yet to settle for a name, saying everything will be known by close of business on Tuesday.

“Being the only female in the whole council the going is not easy but the dream leaves on. The party has not yet made its position but my leaders are aware of the aspiration I have nursed all these years,” said Chiumia on Monday in an interview.

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In Blantyre youthful Chalamanda faces competition from about five contestants including his deputy Wild Ndipo who represents Chigumula Ward.

Asked on why he intends to challenge his boss, Ndipo said preparations for the elections are on track in his camp, then further asked to be called later as he was attending Christmas prayers.

Another notable candidate is DPP’s Louis Ngalande of Misesa Ward in Blantyre City-South Constituency.

Among the four councillors facing–off for the post of deputy mayor, Songwe Kabaghe of Mapanga Ward said yesterday that he intends to carry on the vision of the Blantyre City Council.

“It’s all about citizens, there could be gaps and I am confident I have something to offer to the people of Blantyre,” Kabaghe, who is an independent politician, said.

In Lilongwe, the main opposition Malawi Congress Party (MCP) is reportedly leaving no stone unturned to clinch the mayor’s office which is currently held by Chapondera of the ruling DPP.

Both Chapondera and MCP officials could not pick their mobile phones after several attempts.

Meanwhile, the Ministry of Local Government and Rural Development said through spokesperson Mulhabase Mughogho that there will be no elections at the Zomba City Council since Mayor, Melia Likoswe, is yet to exhaust her two and half year term of office.

Likoswe assumed office in September 2015, replacing late Joana Ntaja who died in March the same year.

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