As MEC begins receiving nomination papers on Monday from participants in the May 21 Tripartite Elections, about 40 sitting parliamentarians may be out of the race having lost in the primary polls for their respective parties.
About 21 sitting Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) MPs have lost plots to new comers, according to a Weekend Nation analysis, trailed by the main opposition Malawi Congress Party (MCP) whose 13 sitting legislators including some respected politicians will not represent the party after the May 21 elections, according to a leaked document we have seen.
In UDF, only three out of its 17 sitting MPs missed out during the primaries.
The development, according to a political commentator, indicates that constituents are “punishing” their legislators for allegedly abandoning them and failing to effectively represent their interests in Parliament.
On the other hand, the former governing People’s Party (PP) has had all its 11 MPs triumphing in their primaries just like the new kid on the block, UTM Party, whose 15 legislators that joined it after defecting from other parties all went through.
Currently, out of the over 50 registered political parties only DPP, MCP, PP, UDF, Alliance for Democracy (Aford) and UTM Party have representation in the 193-member Parliament while the rest are independent legislators.
Over the past weeks, all political parties have been up and down conducting the primaries which were mostly characterised by disagreements resulting from alleged dubious electoral colleges.
But a Weekend Nation research conducted during the week, revealed that 38 parliamentarians, about 20 percent of the total number of all legislators, either lost their constituents’ confidence or voluntarily opted out of their parties’ primary elections.
In an interview, DPP secretary general Greselder Jeffrey and director of elections Ben Phiri referred Weekend Nation to the party’s spokesperson Nicholas Dausi who said an official list was yet to be released but “there is a substantial number of sitting MPs that have failed to make it.”
Said Dausi: “There is quite a substantial number of sitting MPs who have not excelled in the primaries but I need to get actual figures from our secretariat. On his part, MCP director of publicity Rev Maurice Munthali also while referring Weekend Nation to his director of elections Elias Chakwera, said the party would make public an “ultimate list before the end of the week.”
While PP director of elections Lawrence Bisika said all the party’s 11 sitting MPs excelled in the party’s primaries, UDF spokesperson Ken Ndanga said on Tuesday he did not have figures as the process was still going on in some areas.
“Right now I am in Mangochi for the same [primary elections] so talk to our secretary general [Kandi Padambo] for the information,” he said.
But in a written response, Padambo shrewdly said: “We are about to conclude our primaries. They are proceeding well but we have faced a few challenges, all surmountable.”
Some of the sitting MPs that will not be on the DPP list are leader of the backbencher Victor Mbewe of Blantyre City South East, former Cabinet minister and government spokesperson Rev Malison Ndau of Ntcheu Central, former deputy Cabinet minister Lyna Tambala of Mulanje North, Themba Mkandawire of Blantyre City Centre, Patricia Kainga-Nangozo of Zomba Central, Lloyd Malola of Chikwawa Nkombedzi and Zaheer Issa of Chikwawa Central.
In MCP camp, among the key MPs that will miss on the MCP ticket are long servingJoseph Njobvuyalema of Lilongwe Rural Mapuyu South, Kasungu West’s Alex Meja, Amon Nkhata of Kasungu Central, Vitus Dzoole Mwale for Lilongwe Misozi South.
Others are Alekeni Menyani, Langton Nkhosa Kamwendo, Jessie Kabwila who will stand on a UTM Party ticket and Harry Chimpeni Njoka for Dedza North West, Salima North West and Dowa South East, respectively.
Those who have missed the UDF ticket are Machinga Central lawyer Shaibu Kaliati, Ernest Yahaya of Machinga Central East and Aufi Mpawemi of Central East.
Commenting on the number of unsuccessful MPs, political commentator Humphreys Mvula said the development was as a result of their failure to address real issues in their constituencies.
He said: “Most of them were not in communication with the constituents and they did not grieve with the constituents or care for them. Some MPs did not even say anything in Parliament.”
Mvula said the development should act as a wake-up call to the in-coming MPs, who he said should aim to deliver their promises to their constituents.
While some losing candidates have declared to support the winners prior to and during the May 21 elections, some have already said they will stand as independents, accusing their parties favouring their competitors.
In 2014, Parliament started with 52 independent legislators, 50 for DPP, 48 for MCP while PP and UDF had 26 and 14 each. This was the first time that independents dominated in Parliament but because some of them were DPP or MCP at heart the two parties ended up 10 and six or more MPs, respectively. The Alliance for Democracy (Aford) and Chipani Cha Pfuko (CCP) secured a single seat each.
However, current statistics indicate the DPP has over 60 MPs supporting it in Parliament, MCP has about 54, UDF has 15 who joined UTM, 11 are for PP and Aford has two while the rest have remained independents. Chipani cha Pfuko had one MP Davis Katsonga, but he joined DPP after dissolving his party.
Some of sitting MPs that have opted not to seek re-election are Speaker of the National Assembly Richard Msowoya (Karonga Nyungwe-MCP), Harry Thomson of Chikwawa North, Ndau of Ntcheu Central while the late Patrick Themu of Dedza South also withdrew before his death.
Although DPP and UDF have been working together in Parliament, it is not clear if they will contest the Parliamentary elections as allies or separately.