"It's shameful that the UDF party wants to take us back to the dark days,"

Mr Gwanda Chakuamba (2003)

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Thursday, December 08, 2005

Analysts say victory is vote of confidence in Bingu
by Henry Chilobwe, 08 December 2005 - 05:21:49
Chiefs and political analysts have described Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) candidates’ victory in the just-ended by-elections as a vote of confidence for President Bingu wa Mutharika and his government.
They have also spelt doom for the United Democratic Front (UDF) which was a close contender in the election, saying its failure to secure a seat even in its Chiradzulu and Zomba strongholds should be a clear warning that people are fed up with its style of leadership.
Overall, the UDF has lost three seats (in Chiradzulu, Zomba Thondwe and Chitipa Wenya) while the People’s Progressive Movement (PPM), the Alliance for Democracy (Aford) and the defunct Republican Party (RP) each lost their seats in Karonga, Mzimba and Nsanje, respectively.
Senior Chief Kaomba of Kasungu and Traditional Authority Ngabu of Chikwawa said in separate interviews that the victory of DPP is a show of people’s confidence in the current government, its leadership and policies towards national development and economic transformation.
“The party has won seats in all the three regions. It just shows that it’s a party that enjoys people’s support across all the regions and if it was to be supported by other parties in Parliament I would say we would be heading for a good direction. The government has sound policies which the voters have liked and hence this result,” said Kaomba.
But Institute for Policy Interaction (IPI) Executive Director Rafik Hajat warned that although the outcome of the result legitimises the existence of DPP in Parliament, the six seats are too few to enable it wrestle power from the opposition.
“This a political score for the DPP and President Mutharika and a warning to the UDF that it should put its house in order. Lack of democratic ideals is evident in the party in the way it fields its candidates,” said another political analyst from Chancellor College, Boniface Dulani.
But opposition parties have cried foul over the poll results whose unconfirmed results indicate that the DPP has scooped all the six seats that were being contested.
PPM President Aleke Banda said Wednesday the results are a big disappointment to lovers of democracy. He said the election was free since there was no violence but it was not fair because the DPP “used massive state resources to garner support.”
“They were using relief maize as their campaign tool and they kept electioneering after the campaign period was over. To us that is another form of rigging so we are watching the situation but we have not yet decided what to do,” said Banda.
Aford spokesperson Norman Nyirenda also said the election was rigged as “a new and small party like the DPP could not scoop all the seats.”
Meanwhile, the UDF has called for a re-run of the election because of alleged incidents of rigging in Nsanje South-West and Chiradzulu North constituencies.
A letter signed by UDF Secretary-General Kennedy Makwangwala to the Malawi Electoral Commission claims that Sidik Mia bribed election officers in Nsanje with K1,000 each and that the DPP was still campaigning in Chiradzulu long after the official campaign period had expired.
UDF spokesperson Sam Mpasu said in interview that the results were a shock to him.
“My immediate reaction is that of shock and dismay at the scandalous levels of rigging where even the Malawi Electoral Commission itself as aware of our queries but did not do anything.
“This is an unacceptable result and we will meet as a party to decide the way forward,” said Mpasu.
MCP has petitioned the Malawi Electoral Commission (EC) over the by elections conducted saying there were several anomalies that were reported but the commission ignored them.
The party has since called on the EC to nullify the results of the election, saying they were undemocratic.
In a letter dated December 7, addressed to the chairman of the commission, MCP director of elections Joseph Njobvuyalema argues that in Nsanje a senior official of the DPP was caught giving K1000 to polling staff to assist the DPP candidate in winning the elections.
“The matter was officially and in writing brought to the attention of the commission which it verified and confirmed to be true but no action to disqualify the candidate was taken. Instead elections have gone ahead,” reads the petition in part.
Njovuyalema also says in the petition that DPP candidate for Mzimba North Gondwe was distributing Malawi Rural Development Fund (Mardef) loan forms that they would receive the loans if only they voted for him.
He claims Gondwe got about 1,400 forms from Mardef offices in Lilongwe on the 11 and 14 November and 2nd December respectively, arguing that the minister was not even mandated to collect the forms because it was only Traditional Authorities and sitting MPs who had that mandate.
Njovuyalema also claims in the petition that President Bingu wa Mutharika distributed maize to voters on condition that they vote for DPP candidates, saying the development was not only abuse of office but also rigging since it preconceived voter’s minds.
But Information Minister Patricia Kaliati has branded the calls for a re-run as “kicks of a dying horse”, saying the UDF does not have any genuine grounds to allege the election was rigged.
“We are not surprised that they are crying. We would not expect them to laugh after losing miserably to a party they have always despised.
“This landslide victory now vindicates that the DPP is not a regional party and that the President is a good leader. People will now swallow their pride and begin to respect the President,” she said.

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