DPP thrashed in by-elections
Malawi Congress Party (MCP) reigned supreme over ruling Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) by winning five of the six contested for seats in Tuesday’s by-elections.
The elections were highly anticipated as they were deemed to be the precursor of the 2019 tripartite elections. With the DPP’s popularity somehow waning and the MCP seemingly gaining ground, the stage was set for the two main political parties to flex their muscles.
Unofficial results showed that MCP claimed Nsanje-Lalanje, Lilongwe Msozi North and Lilongwe City South East parliamentary seats as well as Ndirande Makata and Mtsiliza wards. DPP’s consolation came in form of their victory in Mayani North Ward.
In Nsanje Lalanje, the main battle was between MCP’s Lawrence Sitolo, who got 8,775 votes, and Gladys Ganda, who amassed 5,453. In Lilongwe Msozi North Constituency, Sosten Gwengwe of MCP got 10, 015 votes followed by DPP’s Bruno Daka who managed to get 2,559 votes. In Lilongwe City South East, Ulemu Msungama of MCP unofficially won with 6,722 votes while DPP’s Reuben Ngwenya managed 3,597 votes while independent candidates Ellen Shaaban and Christopher Joseph Manja got 311 and 891 votes, respectively. In Ndirande Makata Ward, MCP emerged surprise winners with candidate Thom Liwotcha having 969 votes, DPP’s Thom Lita getting 910 votes while UDF’s and PP’s Ishmael Chilambo and Mathews Shaba, respectively, were tied on 363 votes each.
In Mtsiliza Ward, MCP’s Frank Zikawola amassed 921 votes to 826 of DPP’s Benedicto Jumbe while UDF’s Brighton Golombe Edward got 169 votes.
In Mayani Ward, Nicholas Josiya of DPP won with 2, 390 votes trailed by MCP’s Benson Lameck on 1, 690 votes while UDF candidate Everista Kusina managed to get 200 votes.
Winning candidate for Nsanje Lalanje, Sitolo said: “I would like to thank the people of Nsanje Lalanje for giving me the opportunity to serve them.”
In interviews before the elections, Chancellor College political analyst Mustapha Hussein said the by elections, especially the Nsanje Lalanje elections, are a litmus test for the DPP.
“A loss for the DPP will not be a good sign for them because it may mean the MCP is getting a foothold in the Southern Region which has been a stronghold of the ruling party,” he said.
Ernest Thindwa, another political analyst based at Chancellor College, said it would be a big deal if DPP lost in Nsanje Lalanje as it would boost MCP morale and dampen theirs.
“If DPP loses in the Central Region, it will not be as big a deal as losing in Nsanje Lalanje. A loss in Nsanje would affect their [DPP] morale and dampen their spirits but it will not necessarily mean much for 2019,” Thindwa said.
The DPP will have food for thought especially that the defeat is coming with only 19 months before the next general elections.
An Afrobarometer survey recently predicted that if the elections were to be held now the MCP would win while a report by London-based Africa Confidential showed that DPP and Mutharika were losing the people’s trust and chances of winning the 2019 polls were slim.
The Malawi Electoral Commission will announce official results Wednesday.
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