There was tension at Lilongwe’s Civic Offices Thursday as Democratic Progressive Party’s (DPP) senior officials and other supporters threatened to deal with two of their own councillors, who they accuse of betrayal in the capital city’s mayoral polls.
Councillors and Members of Parliament (MPs) within the city voted for Malawi Congress Party (MCP) Councillor for Chigoneka Ward, Desmond Bikoko, despite the DPP having numerical advantage of 16 members out of 31 eligible councillors and MPs.
Bikoko defeated the deputy mayor for the past two years, Akwame Bandawe, who the DPP had nominated for the race.
Two ballot papers written ‘Akwame Bandawe Bikoko’ were declared null and void in the race that saw Bikoko receiving 15 votes against Bandawe’s 14.
Just after the presiding officer, Lilongwe Chief Executive Officer, Moza Zeleza, announced Bikoko as the winner, DPP senior officials including Secretary General, Francis Mphepo, presidential adviser on domestic policy, Heatherwick Ntaba, and other party senior officials and cadets could not believe the results.
One of the DPP supporters went to the extent of spitting on one of the party councillors, Chiwoko Ward Councillor, Katondoli Nyirenda, and Mphepo threatened that the party will deal with him.
“We will deal with you. You have betrayed us,” Mphepo told Nyirenda in the face.
When the DPP members formed a caucus inside the Lilongwe Civic Offices building but outside the chamber, Mphepo was again overhead telling the party faithfuls that the party will deal with the two councillors.
Another councillor, who the DPP members kept on mentioning as a betrayer is the newly elected deputy mayor, Councillor Juliana Kaduya of Chilinde 1 Ward.
But Nyirenda, who was visibly tensed and sought police protection just after casting his deputy mayoral vote, kept on telling the inquisitive party officials that he voted for Bandawe and that he even showed MP for Lilongwe City Centre Constituency, David Bisnowaty, the name on his ballot paper.
Nyirenda even refused to be a monitor for one of the two party members who were contesting for the deputy mayor seat, saying he was no longer in the mood for elections as he suspected some party members were targeting him and his vehicle outside.
Kaduya was also tensed up and was not in 100 percent jovial mood as people celebrated her victory prompting Bikoko to tell one of the city council officers to provide protection.
“She needs your protection,” Bikoko told the officer at the time she was embracing Kaduya.
Another man, who was just victim of mistaken identity, received some punches from some DPP members outside the civic offices.
He was mistakenly beaten in the presence of police officers for being suspected of taking pictures of the caucus that the DPP members had outside the offices.
Bisnowaty’s attempt to convince the chamber to throw out Councillor for Nankhaka Ward, Wilbes Kapiza, who Bisnowaty said was not eligible to vote as his area is not within the city proved futile as Kapiza’s presence was justified.
Bikoko, who had earlier told the voting councillors and Members of Parliament that if they want to see mediocrity of the past two years, then he is not their candidate, said the era for doing business as usual in the capital city is gone.
“We want to improve revenue collection for the city council. This council is capable of producing K60 million in revenues monthly. We also need to look at streetlights and the issue of roads by-passes. Another issue that we also need to emphasise is the auditing of the council to ensure transparency and accountability,” Bikoko said.
Bikoko holds a Doctor of Philosophy degree (PhD) in International Trade, two masters’ degrees in Business Administration and Bachelor’s degree in Leadership and will serve up to 2019.
DPP Spokesperson Francis Kasaila said he had not received the any report from the elections centre.
“I cannot ably comment on what has happened that side,” Kasaila said.
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