Six out of eight candidates appearing on the ballot paper will take part in the final presidential debate this evening.
The organisers are yet to get confirmation from the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) candidate Peter Mutharika while Tikonze People’s Movement aspirant Cassim Chilumpha sent an apology.
The final presidential debate will have Malawi Congress Party (MCP) candidate Lazarus Chakwera, UTM Party’s Saulos Chilima, United Democratic Front’s (UDF) Atupele Muluzi, Professor John Chisi of Umodzi Party, Peter Kuwani of Mbakuwaku Movement for Development and Reverend Kaliya, an independent candidate.
The 2019 Presidential Debates Committee chairperson Teresa Ndanga said by yesterday afternoon, they were sure the debate would have six candidates.
During the first debate, Mutharika was absent after earlier announcing that his party had ‘reservations about the integrity’ of the debate organisation. The organisers have been courting the party to reconsider its stance.
“We are yet to get confirmation from DPP, but we have received an apology from Dr. Chilumpha who says he is outside the country so as of now, we are sure we will have six candidates,” said Ndanga.
In the final debate, human rights lawyer Grace Malera will not moderate because she was contracted for two debates.
Malera’s maiden moderation attracted criticism on social media, but the organisers are impressed with her performance.
The 2014 presidential debates moderator, Reverend Patrick Semphere, returns for the final set which he will be tasked with handling a similar number of candidates he had in his initial assignment.
“We had contracted [Malera] for the two debates and are impressed with her performance. We will have Rev Semphere for the last debate.
“It is important to note that the choice of a moderator is quite long and exhaustive. Most importantly we have to get a nod from the participating candidates. They have to be comfortable with the moderator,” said Ndanga.
The final debate will tackle emerging issues with a special focus on the youth who constitute 54 percent of the registered voters.
The second debate participants gave it their all to show the public that they could be contenders for the May 21 elections and are likely to stand strong against the main contenders to show they are not walkovers.
A governance and political commentator Henry Chingaipe advised the debators to approach the questions as policy issues and regard them as an opportunity to expand the broad policy positions of their parties.
He also asked them to remember their audience is not the moderator, but the voter who will not be in the room as such their language, pitch, content should target them.
“They should never make a diagnosis without offering solution and never be casual in answering any question. Every question has a purpose and is of concern to particular segments of our society. Respect citizens by approaching their issues with seriousness,” he said.
Without mentioning names, Chingaipe further advised the presidential candidates to cut down on arrogance in any form because people are looking for a humble, but firm and assertive leader.