The ruling Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) has failed to maintain its Lilongwe Kaliyeka Ward and further lost in Mchinji West Constituency and Bembeke Ward in Dedza in the by-elections which took place yesterday.
The party has only managed to maintain Kasungu Bunda Ward and Zomba Sadzi which belonged to an independent councillor.
The failure by the party to maintain Kaliyeka Ward in Lilongwe narrows its chances of taking the mayoral position in the forthcoming elections for Lilongwe City Council mayor. The ward has always been a decider as its vote determines the winner. The current Mayor William Chapondera belongs to DPP.
The party’s loss also frustrates Vice President Saulos Chilima’s efforts as he was the party’s chairperson for the by-elections.
According to official results signed by Malawi Electoral Commission(Mec) Chairperson, Jane Ansah, MCP through its candidate Jephter Fackson Mwale has retained Mchinji West parliamentary constituency after beating three other candidates of the ruling DPP, Peoples Party(PP) and Independent by amassing 10,647 votes. .
Another MCP contestant, Richard Banda, has won Kaliyeka Ward with 761 votes, while in Bembeke, Wilfred Tsangala also of MCP was declared the winner as councillor for the ward with 2,626 votes.
DPP candidates Mercy Nkhoma Chaputula who got 400 votes and Philemon Mbalela Theu who scooped 619 votes were declared winners in Sadzi Ward in Zomba and Bunda Ward in Kasungu respectively.
The commission has since expressed concern on the continued voter apathy in the elections that have so far been held in the country and has suggested that a thorough investigation need to be conducted to establish the ‘structural causes’.
“The number of political parties contesting in by-elections is dwindling. We have over 50 registered parties but only five out of these, contested in these by-elections. During the Tripartite Elections only 19 political parties participated. During the October 8, 2014 by-elections five political parties participated. During the 25 August, 2015 by-elections seven political parties contested,
“During the 22 December 2015, 3 Political parties contested. The Commission is encouraging political parties to contest in by- elections since a big number of political parties’ participation in elections give voters a wider choice of candidates to choose from,” Ansah said.
Mec is also worried with the decreasing numbers of female participation in elections and has since urged gender activists and political parties to come up with deliberate policies and measures to enable as many women as possible to contest.
DPP Spokesperson Francis Kasaila said the party looks at its performance in the by-elections positively arguing it went into the by-elections with two wards and has come out of the by-elections with two wards also.
He said the numbers the Mchinji candidate got were more than those on the previous election meaning that the party is gaining ground and that it “will definitely do well in the coming elections in 2019”.
“These are results of an election and if they are declared and signed for by our people on the ground, well, that is what democracy is all about,” Kasaila said.
MCP Spokesperson, Alekeni Menyani, said the party was going to sweep votes in all the five places “if the playing field was levelled.”
“We were fighting a party that is in power and that used public resources. We have demonstrated that if the ground was levelled, they could not defeat us in any way,” Menyani said while condemning DPP’s behaviour in Mchinji where its officials attempted to tamper with the elections.
Political analyst from the University of Malawi’s Chancellor College, Boniface Dulani, has warned the DPP against taking people for granted.
Dulani said politics in Malawi is taking right direction because the electorate have demonstrated that despite being promised things or given things, they still vote according to their conscience.
“If I were in DPP, I would use the results to rethink whether the party is in tune with what people are thinking,” Dulani said adding that the use of handouts to woo people is now becoming ineffective starting from 2014 elections.
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