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Survey tips Malawi Congress Party to win

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The survey that pan-African research network, Afrobarometer, conducted between December 2016 and January this year has rated Malawi Congress Party (MCP) presidential candidate highly in terms of respondents’ voting intentions or choices.

Afrobarometer conducts public attitude surveys on democracy, governance, economic conditions and related issues in African countries and the 2016/2017 survey is the seventh round of surveys since 1999.

The results disseminated in Lilongwe Tuesday indicate that when asked which presidential candidate they would vote for if the presidential elections were held at the time of the survey, 32 percent picked the MCP candidate.

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The ruling Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) presidential candidate attracted the interest of 26 percent while United Democratic Front (UDF) and People’s Party (PP) candidates moved the minds of 11 percent and seven percent of the respondents, respectively.

Eight percent of the respondents said they would not vote and 13 percent did not know or refused to answer.

As many as 26 percent of the respondents, however, expressed their allegiance to DPP as compared

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to the 20 percent support for MCP, eight percent affiliation to UDF and five percent closeness to PP.

About six in every 10 Malawians say they feel close to a political party.

In terms of trust, the survey indicates that only 36 percent of Malawians trust President Peter Mutharika, only 34 percent trust the ruling DPP and the trust levels in the Malawi Electoral Commission (Mec) have dramatically tumbled from 57 percent in 2014 to 33 percent in 2017.

But popular trust levels are high for religious leaders at 81 percent, the Malawi Defence Force at 73 percent and traditional leaders at 67 percent.

The courts have 59 percent of trust levels, police have 53 percent trust, Parliament has 40 percent and 42 percent of the respodents opposition parties while councillors are getting 39 percent of the trust levels.

The survey has shown that Malawians are largely negative about the state of the country’s political governance systems expressing low popular trust in leaders, widespread disapproval of government performance on most national issues and perceived restrictions on citizens’ political freedoms.

DPP spokesperson Francis Kasaila said it is difficult for him to comment before understanding the data.

“What is the sample and why those discrepancies between the presidential candidate for the party and the party? If the party is popular why is its leader not popular? We need to analyse these issues before we can comment,” Kasaila said.

No government official attended the results dissemination conference.

MCP Second Deputy Secretary General Eisenhower Mkaka said the party welcomes the survey results and will take it as a benchmark for more efforts.

“We are happy that the party has done better and it is a reflection of what we are doing to make it stronger,” Mkaka said.

UDF Secretary General Kandi Padambo said the party is always positive on surveys and will use the findings to improve.

PP Secretary General Ibrahim Matola said party will take the results to its research unit for consideration.

Matola, however, said the dwindling party support may be attributed to the absence of its leader, Joyce Banda.

“I think people are missing her and you get that when you meet them. They keep on asking about her and we feel when she comes back, the party will be stronger than before,” Matola said.

Research fellow at Centre for Social Research at Chancellor College and one of Afrobarometers representatives in Malawi Joseph Chunga said the survey is for the use of decision or policy makers.

“We do not recommend on what they are supposed to do but we have given them results for their consideration. It is up to them to decide what to do with what we have found,” Chunga said.

Close to 90 percent of Malawians said the country is going in the wrong direction.

The survey also indicates that Malawians are losing confidence in elections and demand electoral reforms.

According to the survey, Malawians also feel levels of corruption in the country are increasing and about half of the respondents said most, or all police officers, presidency officials and business executives are involved in corruption while religious leaders are seen as least corrupt.

In the survey, 1,200 adult Malawians were interviewed and this sample size yields country- level results with a margin error of +/-3 at a 95 percent confidence level.

In the run-up to the May 20 2014 Tripartite Elections, Afrobarometer in the survey tipped DPP presidential candidate Mutharika to win the elections.

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