Political parties in the country are shuffling and strategising in readiness for the mayoral elections that will be held in the country’s councils starting today.
The first elections will be held in Lilongwe today while Blantyre and Mzuzu city councils will go to the polls four days later on January 9.
In a bid to dislodge the ruling Democratic Progressive Party (DPP), the Malawi Congress Party (MCP) is once again featuring Chigoneka Ward Councillor, Desmond Bikoko. Bikoko lost to current Mayor Willie Chapondera, who is Councillor for Kawale 1, by 14 to 16 votes on July 8 2014.
Malawi Congress Party (MCP) Director of Elections, Maxwell Thyolera, said the party has settled for Bikoko after looking at his capabilities.
Thyolera said the capital city needs to be moving together with other cities in terms of development and the party thinks their candidate has the potential to move the city to another level in terms of development.
“In terms of numbers, we think we are fine and what I can say is just ask the DPP councillors and Members of Parliament in the city to support Bikoko not for politics but for the sake of development in the city,” Thyolera said.
Director of Elections in the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP), Kondwani Nankhumwa, said the party was still discussing on the probable candidate as of yesterday afternoon.
“We are still discussing and by the end of the day, we will be able to let you know,” Nankhumwa said.
Meanwhile, Lilongwe City Council Public Relations Officer Tamara Chafunya confirmed the elections taking place today and said that the official candidates would be known during the elections.
In Blantyre, a well-placed source confided with The Daily Times that there are underground plans by the ruling DPP to depose current Mayor Noel Chalamanda, who the party supported last time, in favour of either current Deputy Mayor Wild Ndipo or Louis Ngalande. However, when asked, BCC Public Relations Manager, Anthony Kasunda, refused to comment, saying that all he knows is that candidates are presenting their nominations.
Kasunda then disclosed that the council will commission an independent overseer during the polls. He however refused to reveal the identity of the overseer.
“We do not want any City Council employee to take part, hence we have engaged an outsider to preside over the electoral process,” Kasunda said.
The spokesperson added that the nominated councillors have to confirm their participation between December 27 and January 6 by 4: 30 pm.
“There is a lot of enthusiasm among the councillors to contest but it will be premature for me to disclose the names,” Kasunda said.
In Mzuzu, the contest, according to information that we have, is between opposition People’s Party (PP) and DPP. Incumbent Mayor William Mkandawire of PP will face DPP’s Yona Mkandawire, while the incumbent Deputy Mayor Frazer Chunga of PP competes with fellow PP Councillor Patrick Ng’oma and Malawi Congress Party (MCP) Councillor Alexander Mwakikunga.
Mzuzu City Council Public Relations Officer Karen Msiska confirmed the names but said the nominations will continue until Friday.
“We are very prepared, we are working on the final touches of the elections and we are hopeful to conduct very credible elections. We are engaging people from outside the system, the Malawi Electoral Commission to help us to administer the elections who will bring the ballot boxes to ensure that the elections are as transparency as possible,” Msiska said.
Meanwhile, political parties and councillors are holding secret caucuses conducting campaigns.
The Mzuzu Chamber has six councilors for PP, five Members of Parliament behind DPP and five from MCP.
However, reports also indicate that MCP has gone into a coalition with PP ahead of the polls.
At the DPP has changed the candidates thrice since December.
Their last meeting held at Chatonda Lodge in December. The party agreed to feature Denis Moyo only to change later in favour of Judith Chiumia.
In Zomba, there was controversy among councillors, Zomba City Council secretariat and Ministry of Local Government over the ministry’s decision not to conduct mayoral elections.
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