DPP regional governor for the North the Reverend Christopher Ngwira has said his party will challenge its candidateâ€™s disqualification from contesting the Mzimba Central Constituency by-elections.
DPP, which held primaries last Wednesday and elected Owen Mkandawire to represent it in Mzimba Central, is missing on the final list of aspirants who presented nomination papers because the Electoral Commission reportedly said the candidate submitted his nomination forms after 4pm, which was past the official deadline for filling nominations.
But Ngwira said their candidate, who was affected by a voter certificate misunderstanding with a returning officer, was told business would be closed at 5pm and submitted his nominations by the stated time after finalising his voter registration issue.
â€œOur candidate [arrived] at the venue by 8am, but lost his voter certificate and was sent back by EC officials on the understanding that by 5pm, when business closes, he should have submitted his nomination, which he did. So, to hear that he is disqualified, we are shocked and we will fight,â€ said Ngwira at Kapiri nomination centre on Saturday.
However, the team that presided over the nominations which included the director of planning and development for Mâ€™mbelwa District Council Humphreys Gondwe, regional elections officer for the North Wellington Katantha, Mzimba Central Constituency returning officer Domingo Mbale and Mzimba EC coordinator Frank Ndhlela, dismissed the DPP claim in an interview.
Said Mbale: â€œDPP collected their nomination form some weeks ago and before we submitted [the forms] to them, we made sure they understood the conditions and they accepted. So, how could we change tune this time around when it is clearly written in the guidelines?â€
ECâ€™s director of media and public relations Sangwani Mwafulirwa earlier said the names on the official list were for those people who presented their nomination papers before the prescribed 4 pm deadline.
In a press release, Mwafuliwa said eight contestants are competing for the by-elections slated for October 9.
In Mzimba Central Constituency, which fell vacant following professor Donton Mkandawireâ€™s death, the ruling Peopleâ€™s Party (PP) is fielding Allarm Mdala Beza. Other contestants are Ennita Wezzie Njolwa (Aford), Bonifasio Ngulube (National Rainbow Coalition) and Joseph Mabvuto Kachali (Independent).
In the Mzimba South-West Constituency, which fell vacant following the appointment of Khumbo Kachali as the Vice-President, the contestant are: Raymond Nkhata (PP), Leonard Nkhata (DPP), Baxter Mazunda (Independent) and James Nthara (Independent).
One aspirant, Maggie Chipeta, who wanted to stand on the United Democratic Front (UDF) ticket, was also disqualified for failing to submit all documents as required by law. (With additional reporting by Frederick Ndala Jnr, Mzuzu Bureau Supervisor)