UTM president Saulos Chilima and his United Democratic Front (UDF) counterpart Atupele Muluzi are, together with their respective parties, missing on the list of nine presidential hopefuls who are expected to submit their nomination papers to Malawi Electoral Commission (Mec) Wednesday and Thursday.
But according to Mec Director of Media and Communications, Sangwani Mwafulirwa, the list is tentative in terms of who can actually submit their papers under a slot allocated for any presidential hopeful.
Malawi Congress Party (MCP) and UTM officials also indicated in separate interviews that their parties have not yet resolved who will lead their alliance in the July 2 presidential election.
The programme by Mec indicates that MCP president Lazarus Chakwera, whose party is in an electoral alliance with UTM, is expected to present his nomination papers Wednesday at 9 a.m. while President Peter Mutharika whose party sealed a deal with UDF will present his on Thursday.
While speculation has been rife that Chakwera will lead the MCP/UTM alliance and Mutharika will lead the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP)/UDF alliance, all the involved parties have not clearly come out on their deals.
Mwafulirwa also indicated that the names on the list that Mec has released do not necessarily show who will lead the respective alliances as that is beyond Mec’s mandate.
“The list has been developed basing on the names given when collecting nomination papers. Who becomes the candidate is the choice of the political parties and so too who becomes the running mate,” he said.
He added that it is possible that new names can come in to be added to the list if they meet all the requirements before the last day of submitting the nomination papers.
“The commission gets to know of the actual candidates and their running mates when they present their nomination papers,” Mwafulirwa said.
MCP Secretary General Eisenhower Mkaka also maintained that Chakwera’s name on the list was only representing the alliance and not necessarily indicating forthrightly that he was leading it.
“We are still discussing the details of the alliance including who is going to lead it,” Mkaka said.
He added that Chakwera’s name was provided to Mec for formality purpose, to put it on record that the alliance will be represented at the event where the nomination papers will be presented.
His UTM counterpart, Patricia Kaliati, also said their parties had not yet agreed on who is going to lead the alliance and that “what we know is that the name of the presidential candidate will be announced”.
We did not manage to get comments from UDF and DPP officials.
But political analyst George Phiri is of the view that since anyone can lead the alliances, putting names on the list that Mec has released could be “too revealing”.
Other presidential candidates who are expected to present the papers on Wednesday are Shaibu Mustafa of New Vision for Democracy, Peter Kuwani of Mbakuwaku Movement for Development and David Chikomeni Chirwa and Reverend Kaliya who want to stand as independents.
On Thursday, independents Khwechani Nkhoma, Phunziro Mvula and Smart Swira and Mutharika are expected to present their papers.
Malawians are going to the fresh presidential election on July 2 after the Constitutional Court nullified the May 2019 presidential poll on the basis of what the court termed as massive and systematic irregularities, among others.
Justin Mkweu is a fast growing reporter who currently works with Times Group on the business desk.
He is however flexible as he also writes about current affairs and national issues.