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Why do parties think Malawians should vote for them?

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By Serah Makondetsa

As the two months’ campaign period comes to an end tomorrow at 6am, various political parties have been up and down wooing people to vote for them ahead of May 21 Tripartite Elections.

For the past two months, the seven presidential candidates 193 aspiring members of Parliament and 462 aspiring ward councillors battled it out across the country in search of votes.

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The seven presidential hopefuls are Democratic Progressive Party (DPP)’s Peter Mutharika, Malawi Congress Party (MCP)’s Lazarus Chakwera, UTM’s Saulos Chilima, United Democratic Front (UDF)’s Atupele Muluzi, John Chisi of Umodzi Party, Peter Kuwani of Mbakuwaku Movement for Development and an independent candidate Reverend Kaliya.

During the campaign trail, the four major political parties laid out their promises of what they would do if voted into power.

From the onset of the official campaign period, the parties launched their manifestos packaged with pledges.

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Among others, DPP promised to set up agricultural commodity markets that will be fully equipped with refrigeration equipment in areas the commodities are being produced and promote women empowerment.

MCP promised, among other pledges, to root out corruption, provide clean water and trim presidential powers.

During its manifesto launch, UDF promised to stabilise the economy, develop a social protection system for vulnerable people, ensure that there is good governance and promote transparency and accountability and many more.

And UTM, among others promised to remove presidential immunity in the country’s Constitution and harmonise civil servants’ salaries.

However, as the campaign period comes to end, the four major parties picked out two outstanding issues why Malawians should vote for them.

DPP spokesperson Nicholas Dausi said Malawians should re-elect the party on the basis that, for the past five years, the economy of the country has stabilised.

“We have a president who is cool, calm, a great statesman. He is someone who is not vengeful and does not mind what others are talking of him. He simply wants to develop the country.

“Secondly, we have developed the country economically. Financial discipline, we have made sure that the country develops in various sectors such as infrastructure, health, education and tourism. Only Peter Mutharika can do that and he, therefore, deserves another chance,” Dausi said.

MCP secretary general Eisenhower Mkaka said Malawians should look beyond promises but rather the character of the leader.

“In this election character is everything. In the past elections, a lot of promises were made. DPP made a lot of promises in 2014 and they made those promises with Chilima and they haven’t been met and these people do not have a character that can be trusted.

“Malawians have tried the rest; it is time to try the best and Chakwera has the best team to implement all the promises that he has made. So, when you look at MCP, it is a team that is going to deliver,” he said.

UDF spokesperson Ken Ndanga said the party will ensure protection of public resources.

“The first reason, we will manage the public purse to benefit Malawians and, secondly, the UDF leadership has no vendetta against any Malawian and, because of that, we will work with anybody and that the Cabinet will comprise

 Malawians from all walks of life to cater for all needs of Malawians,” he said.

UTM spokesperson Joseph Chidanti Malunga said UTM is the only party whose focus is on the youth.

“We are the only party that is talking about stamping out corruption in this country and you know that corruption is evil; it is the only catalyst that is bringing down the development of this country. The DPP government has been at the centre of corruption and we know that the only way of moving forward is basically to end corruption.

“Secondly, we need to develop this country by looking at the majority of this people and majority in this country are the youth; so, we want to engage the youth in the development of this country. And, therefore, we are going to give the youth the chance to run the affairs of the country,” he said.

Ahead of the elections, there were possible electoral alliances with People’s Party (pp) first partnering with UTM, a partnership which barely lasted two days before PP eventually settled for MCP.

DPP was reported to have been in talks with UDF despite the two parties hitting a snag on the possible coalition.

In 2014, there were 12 presidential candidates with Mutharika emerging winner amassing 1,904,399 votes representing 36.4 percent.

Chakwera came second with 1,455,880 votes representing 27.8 percent.

Former president Joyce Banda came third with 1,056,236 votes representing 20.2 percent while Muluzi came fourth with 717,224 representing 13.7 percent and the rest of the candidates shared among each other the remaining votes.

DPP won 51 seats for the National Assembly, MCP got 48 seats, PP got 26 seats and UDF got 14 seats.

In the local government elections, DPP got 165 votes, MCP got 131 votes, PP got 65 and UDF got 57.

The country’s 6.8 million registered voters will Tuesday queue to elect president and vice-president, members of Parliament and ward councillors.

Mec will announce the winner of May 21 Tripartite Elections within eight days from the polling day.

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