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DPP defers polls for sitting MPs

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By Serah Makondetsa:

The Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) has shelved primary elections in constituencies where the party has sitting Members of Parliament (MP) allegedly for fear of losing grip of the august House.

An anonymous source tipped Malawi News that, ahead of the next Parliament sitting, the party wants to maintain the vote of the majority.

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“I can tell you in confidence, you can even do a research, you will discover that most constituencies that the party has conducted the primary elections do not have sitting MPs. This is because they are not sure who is going to succeed during the elections,” said the source.

However, Minister of Information, who is also DPP Publicity Secretary, Nicholas Dausi denied the allegations but was quick to clarify that the party is doing this as a way of respecting its incumbent MPs.

“According to our Constitution, Parliament concludes after five years, particularly on March 20. So, in all constituencies where we do not have sitting MPs, we will do the primaries. In all areas where we have sitting MPs, we are going to respect our MPs and conduct the primaries sometime in January or February next year,” he said.

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Our fact-finding in the constituencies where DPP has conducted the primary elections in the Northern Region has revealed that, indeed, the party did not have sitting MPs in most areas.

DPP Northern Region Governor Kenneth Sanga in an interview said the party has concluded the first phase of the primary elections in the region and the party is now conducting the primary elections in the Southern Region.

From the 12 constituencies that we surveyed, we found out that only one constituency in the Northern Region had a sitting MP.

According to Sanga, some of the constituencies that the party has conducted the primary elections include Chitpa Wenya, Chitipa North, Karonga North, Karonga Nyungwe and Karonga Central.

“Rumphi Central, Mzimba North, Mzimba North East, Mzimba Central, Nkhata Bay North West, Nkhata Bay South East and Karonga North East are some of the constituencies I can remember, now it is the turn of the Southern Region,” he said.

Our review revealed that representatives for the following constituencies are Chitipa Wenya, Godfrey Munkhondya (People’s Party- PP), Chitipa North, James Munthali (PP), Karonga North, Vincent Ghambi (United Transformation Movement- UTM), Karonga Nyungwe, Richard Msowoya (UTM), Karonga Central, Frank Mwenefumbo (Independent) and Rumphi Central, Enoch Chihana (Alliance for Democracy-Aford).

In six other constituencies, the legislators are Mzimba North, Agness Nyalonje (UTM), Mzimba North East, Olipa Chiluba (UTM), Mzimba Central, Henry Shaba (Independent), Nkhata Bay North West, Comodius Nyirenda (Independent), Nkhata Bay South East, Noah Chimpeni (PP) and Karonga North West, James Kamwambi (DPP).

In the Shire Valley districts of Chikwawa and Nsanje, the trend was the same. Out of six constituencies, the party has only conducted primary elections in two constituencies where the party does not have sitting MPs.

The party has conducted primary elections at Chikwawa East where Rodrick Khumbanyiwa of United Democratic Front (UDF) is the MP and Chikwawa North belonging to Harry Thomson (Independent).

The University of Malawi’s Chancellor College-based political analyst Mustapha Hussein said primary elections give constituents a chance to decide who they want to represent them.

“This is always the time for the MPs to know how the people from the areas feel about them. This is the time the people decide to choose depending on how an incumbent has performed during their term. So the party should not impose or decide who they want but rather let the people decide,” he said.

Malawi Congress Party was the first to start conducting primary elections in various constituencies.

In some constituencies, sitting MPs such Alex Njovuyalema (Lilongwe Mapuyu), Watson Makala- Ngozo (Lilongwe Mpenu) and Alekeni Menyani (Lilongwe City Centre) lost the polls to Edward Chileka, Eisenhower Mkaka and Alfred Jiya respectively.

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