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Why constituents rejected old timers

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By Serah Makondetsa:

May 21 Tripartite Elections were not only full of irregularities but also surprises as only 60 members of Parliament (MP) in the just-dissolved National Assembly retained their seats.

These polls will go down in the annals of history as Malawians forgot names, popularity and stature of politicians when they voted.

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Malawi News during the week established that 132 seats have been replaced with new members of Parliament across the country chucking off majority of the old timers.

At least 18 veterans and other political giants lost parliamentary elections, a development that shocked many.

Among the most notable casualties is Atupele Muluz,i who was United Democratic Front (UDF)’s presidential hopeful in the just-ended polls.

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Muluzi lost his Machinga North East Constituency seat to Richard Kalitende, who contested as an independent candidate.

Muluzi had been MP in the area since 2004

He was, however, quick to concede defeat pledging to support Kalitende.

Random interviews in various places where deemed political heavyweights have fallen disclosed that regional strongholds, lack of development and party affiliations played a huge part in the constituents’ decision on whom to vote for.

People from Chiradzulu East Constituency where a Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) guru Henry Mussa fell attributed his failure to need for change.

Mussa has been MP for the area for close to 20 years.

“To be honest, he has done his part. He has developed the area and he is a people’s person but you know sometimes people just want change; that is why we voted for another candidate. We simply want to experience other ideas,” said a source we met on our visit to the area.

UTM has also had its prominent members, most of whom are members of the party’s National Governing Council, losing in the elections.

Some of the notable names to have lost are Jessie Kabwila, Noel Masangwi, the party’s running mate Micheal Usi in the presidential race and secretary general Patricia Kaliati.

Change of party colours is what triggered Kaliati’s loss of her 20-year reign in Mulanje West Constituency.

“If only she had stayed with DPP, she would still be MP; let us be honest, this part of the country is mostly dominated by DPP supporters, so, for her to think she can join another party and still have majority of us trailing behind her was too ambitious of her,” she said.

UTM’s Leonard Njinkho was a victim of change as it is believed to be a trend that Mzuzu City voters do not retain MPs.

Such was the case of Enock Chihana in Rumphi Central Constituency and Khumbo Kachali, president of Freedom Party, in Mzimba South West.

“It seems people wanted change in most of these constituencies. The same person cannot bring in new ideas, so we needed change,” said a source.

However, it was also observed that some contestants who won on independent tickets were victim of disputed party primary elections.

This was the case of Nancy Tembo, an independent who triumphed against Rhino Chiphiko of Malawi Congress Party (MCP) in Lilongwe City South West, and Patrick Bandawe, an independent who triumphed against Julliana Lunguzi in Dedza East Constituency.

“Some of the candidates that contested on independent tickets were legitimate winners during the primary elections. And the general election was the deciding vote. That is why you can see some candidates who contested on party tickets lost to independent candidates,” echoed two sources from the Central Region.

Speaking on the findings, DPP publicity secretary Nicholas Dausi said it is not the duty of the party to dwell on individual’s failures.

“It is not the duty of a political party to scrutinise who has failed where,” he said.

However, MCP secretary general Eisenhower Mkaka argues that democracy of the country is growing and voters are going past personal loyalty.

“Day by day, democracy is maturing and the voter cannot be taken for granted and people are not voting based on political patterns or personal affiliations. A voter is looking for substance this time around unlike personal loyalty and it is good because what it means is that people with substance will be voted into power,” he said.

UTM publicity secretary Joseph Chidanti Malunga said, while the party is contesting the results, it has been observed that people want change.

“First of all, there are so many issues. The first one you must remember is that we are contesting the results because we don’t believe the results are a true reflection of what happened on May 21.

“Secondly, people are tired of the same old people; they want change. That is why you see that there a lot of new faces and the people think that the change they want is by changing the people as well,” he said.

DPP has won 62 seats while MCP and independent candidates are trailing second with 55 seats each.

UDF, People’s Party, UTM four seats and Alliance for Democracy (Aford) have 10, five, four and one seats respectively.

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