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Race on for mayorship

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By Samuel Kalimira & Feston Malekezo:

LILONGWE CITY’S MOST RECENT MAYOR—Bikoko

Malawi Congress Party (MCP), Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) and UTM have won most seats in Local Government elections for the country’s cities and municipalities, giving them a strong chance to push for the election of their ward councillors as mayors.

DPP look set to have a strong push for the election of mayors for Zomba and Blantyre cities and Luchenza Municipality after realising 161 seats for ward councillors out of the 460 seats that were competed for.

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On the other hand, MCP and UTM can push for their candidates to vie for city chief positions of Lilongwe and Mzuzu, respectively. MCP also won the most seats in Kasungu and their candidates can make it in that municipality.

Malawi Electoral Commission (Mec) figures show that MCP won 160 seats, 39 for UTM, United Democratic Front (UDF) 20, People’s Party (PP, four), Alliance for Democracy (Aford, two) whereas 74 are independent ward councillors.

Mec figures indicate that most ward councillors for Lilongwe are for MCP while DPP’s Selekani Kansikiri of Katope Ward was the party’s only winner in Lilongwe, with four being independents.

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Councilors from wards in the city belong to Lilongwe City Council while the others are for Lilongwe District Council.

According to data from Mec, 25 out of the 27 councillors belong to MCP while two are for UTM.

All city MPs have voting powers at the councils. Three of them—Ulemu Msungama (Lilongwe City South East), George Zulu (Lilongwe City West) and Alfred Jiya (Lilongwe Centre)—are MCP members.

Nancy Tembo (Lilongwe City South West) won as an independent candidate after being dissatisfied with results of MCP primary elections in the constituency.

The development means that since MCP is in majority, it is likely that Lilongwe Mayor would be a member of the party.

The most recent mayor for Lilongwe was Desmond Bikoko whereas Wild Ndipo was Blantyre City mayor.

Furthermore, all the nine councillors elected in Kasungu Municipality belong to MCP, which means the mayorship will go to MCP.

Mec Chairperson, Jane Ansah, released results of 460 seats as results for Ngokwe Ward in Machinga South East and Mkumbiza Ward in Mulanje Bale constituencies have been withheld pending further investigations.

“A total of 5,062,778 turned up for polling, representing 74.18 percent. A total of 4,888,841 were valid votes while 173,937 votes were null and void, representing 2.55 percent,’’ she said.

In Mzuzu, the mayor is likely to come from UTM which won eight seats in 15 wards seconded by MCP with four wards, one for Aford where two were independents.

UTM Northern Region deputy regional governor, Davie Botha, said the party wants to vie for mayor and deputy mayoral positions.

“We respect others who have won from other parties but we feel ours are the cream of the councillors capable of holding mayoral office,” Botha said, adding that they might give the councillors a chance to decide on the candidates.

MCP Northern Regional chairperson, Gracious Soko, said they would field candidates for positions up for grabs in Mzuzu despite that the party won a few seats.

But social commentator Moses Mkandawire said councillors are supposed to elect a mayor depending on the capability and not political grounds.

DPP, PP and UDF did not win any ward in Mzuzu.

However, DPP looks better placed to get mayoral positions in Blantyre and Zomba cities and Luchenza Municipality looking at the number of councillors who have been elected in the councils.

Out of 23 wards in Blantyre City, DPP won 16, four were for UTM, with three seats going to independent councillors.

In Zomba, six out of the 10 wards went to DPP while UDF, UTM and PP got one ward each, with one seat going to an independent councillor.

In Luchenza, four of the eight wards went to DPP with independent councillors winning the rest.

Some of the independent candidates might also cross the floor and join the top three parties.— Additional reporting by Jameson Chauluka and Faith Kadzanja

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