MCP, UTM and others seal alliance
Malawi Congress Party (MCP) president Lazarus Chakwera, his UTM counterpart Saulos Chilima and leaders of other political parties unveiled a grand electoral alliance in Lilongwe yesterday in a bold response to 50%+1 majority threshold for winning presidential candidate in the forthcoming fresh poll.
Chakwera is expected to bring into the alliance MCP traditional voters from the Central Region and parts of the Southern and Northern regions whereas Chilima, who is also State Vice-President, adds to the pact the youth, urban and Northern Region voters.
In the nullified May 21 2019 presidential election, Chakwera and Chilima earned a combined 2,889,109 votes and plus Umodzi Party’s John Chisi who is also part of the alliance, the figures translate to 2,908,296.
In the disputed poll, Chakwera finished second with 35.41 percent behind Democratic Progressive Party (DPP)’s leader President Peter Mutharika’s 1,940,709 (38.57 percent) whereas Chilima was third (20.24 percent).
The MCP/UTM alliance, which has also brought on board Alliance for Democracy (Aford), former president Joyce Banda’s People’s Party, Mafunde (George Nnesa) and Kamuzu Chibambo’s Petra, comes days after DPP recently sealed their alliance with United Democratic Front (UDF) whose leader Atupele Muluzi finished on fourth place with 235,164 votes (4.6 percent).
The Constitutional Court sitting in Lilongwe nullified the May 21 presidential poll and ordered fresh ones within 150 days from February 3 2020 when it delivered the judgement while also refining the meaning of ‘majority’ saying it was not First-Past-the-Post which Malawi Electoral Commission (Mec) used in last year’s discarded presidential poll.
Speaking to thousands of jubilant supporters clad in red at Kamuzu Institute for Sports, Chilima said the alliance is designed to emancipate Malawians from challenges they are facing.
“We deliberately chose to hold the alliance signing ceremony at Kamuzu Institute for Sports, not Civo or Masintha Ground, so that we are able to see that house over there [Kamuzu Palace]which is our destination,” Chilima said.
He urged leaders of the alliance to forget the past and move forward together “to save Malawi from the jaws of abject poverty”.
“What we have signed today is the happiness of Malawians. We want businesses to start growing and Malawians to start living happy lives again.
“I, therefore, urge Malawians to register in large numbers and to vote as well as monitor the May 19 elections so that nobody should mess with your votes,” Chilima said.
Chilima also claimed that State House was forcing telecommunication companies to allow it to have access to their Virtual Private Network to access conversations of private citizens.
He claimed he had a letter from State House to a telecommunication firm and warned Kamuzu Palace that he will be forced to publish it in the newspapers.
In reaction, Presidential Press Secretary, Mgeme Kalilani, rubbished the allegations, describing them as news to them.
The signing ceremony was attended by several high-profile people, including Banda, former official hostess, Mama Cecilia Tamanda Kadzamira, former vice-president and Freedom Party leader, Khumbo Kachali, MCP vice-president, Sidik Mia, Chisi, PPM leader, Mark Katsonga Phiri, Aford leader Enoch Chihana and Chibambo.
In her address, Banda said she was optimistic that the alliance will help pull Malawians from poverty, saying there is power in unity.
In his address, Chakwera expressed worry over Mutharika’s decision not to approve the firing of Mec commissioners as well as signing the electoral reform bills.
Chakwera said with the alliance, the will of Malawians will triumph.
He said although Mutharika has refused to fire Mec commissioners as well as approve the electoral bills, he will soon realise that the power rests with the people.
“There is no way one person could fight while Parliament passed the electoral reform bills because the MPs represent all Malawians. What President Mutharika should know is that today has shown that change has come to Malawi,” Chakwera said.
Describing it as an alliance of the people, Chakwera said the coalition leaders will be walking together in unison just the way soldiers do in a parade.
“If you were demonstrating that Mec Chairperson, Jane Ansah, must go, this is your alliance. If you are tired of poor quality of education, this alliance is for you. If you are tired of high levels of unemployment prevailing in the country this alliance is for you.
“If you are not happy with the high price of fertiliser, this is your alliance. If you are tired of Mutharika, this alliance is for you,” Chakwera said.
The rally was also attended by Zengani Chirwa, who is son to first MCP president, Orton Chirwa.
Chakwera hailed Zengani Chirwa for forgetting the past and putting Malawi first.