Disagreements have engulfed Malawi Congress Party (MCP) primary elections for Lilongwe Mapuyu South constituency with both the incumbent legislator Joseph Njobvuyalema and his main challenger Edward Chileka-Banda claiming triumph.
Further, MCP officials are also providing conflicting information on who exactly won the race to represent the main opposition party in the May 21 2019 Tripartite Elections.
On Thursday, the party’s central region chairperson and his director of elections Patrick Chilondola and Willard Gwengwe respectively confirmed that Chileka-Banda, a human and civil rights campaigner, had floored Njobvuyalema by 470 votes to 320.
But according to figures from the election’s returning officer Makala Ngozo, the veteran politician carried the day after amassing 356 votes against Chileka-Banda’s 199.
In an interview on Friday Ngozo said: “I was assigned by my director of elections [Gwengwe] to conduct the elections. I reported back to him and those are the figures I recorded on the result sheet.”
Gwengwe was not reachable on his mobile phone when contacted to clarify on the conflicting figures while the party’s spokesperson Maurice Munthali referred Weekend Nation to Elias Chakwera, MCP director of elections.
But Chakwera, who wondered why the officials were providing contradictory information, said the results that came through to him on Thursday indicated that Chileka-Banda had carried the day.
“But as the party’s director of elections I am still waiting for an official report from the people who were on the ground although I heard the votes were in favour of Banda and I know Honourable Njobvuyalema is disputing the results. That is inevitable and it happens in every election,” said Chakwera.
In separate interviews on Friday, both Njobvuyalema and Chileka-Banda insisted being the rightful winner and vowed to proceed and represent the party in next year’s polls.
“Officially recognized people sent by the party to conduct the elections have declared that I am the rightful winner based on the number of delegates who voted as such nobody else can dispute that other than agreeing to the reality,” said Njobvuyalema who has successively represented the constituency since 1999.
Chileka-Banda asked Njobvuyalema to accept defeat with honour “because the people have spoken and must be respected.”
The party started its primary elections on August 21 but suspended it after fracas ensued in Dedza North where angry people damaged cars belonging to party officials who went to monitor the polls. The exercise only resumed this week.