Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) parliamentary candidate for Nsanje-Lalanje, Gladys Ganda, on Thursday avoided a political debate where she was scheduled to face her two rivals.
However, at some point Ganda was seen passing by the venue of the debate with a group of her supporters while the event was in progress.
The debate, organised by the National Initiative for Civic Education (Nice) Trust, was held at Bangula Trading Centre in Nsanje, but only Malawi Congress Party (MCP) candidate Lawrence Sitolo and an independent aspirant Winnie Wakudyanaye turned up.
Also in attendance were Malawi Electoral Commission (MEC) chairperson Jane Ansah, commissioner Jean Mathanga who is chairperson of electoral services, deputy chief elections officer Harris Potani and Henzily Munkhodya, director of electoral services.
The three aspirants were supposed to outline their manifestos to the electorates, besides urging them to co-exist following political violence that has characterised the by-election campaign.
Nice Trust regional civic education officer (South) Enock Chinkhuntha said they were surprised that Ganda snubbed the debate despite confirming to participate ahead of the October 17 parliamentary by-election.
He also said Ganda did not give any reason for her failure to attend.
“She, actually, confirmed that she will be in attendance and we are actually surprised that she has not turned up. To us, this is unfortunate because we were expecting that those vying for the parliamentary seat should be able to engage with the electorate because we talk about representative democracy. So, if they shun such events then I think it is a cause of worry to the functionality of democracy,” said Chinkhuntha.
When contacted, Ganda said she would call back, but she never did and later she did not pick up her phone after several attempts.
In an interview after the event, MEC chairperson said through the Multiparty Liaison Committee (MLC) they had resolved the differences that were there and they expect no more political skirmishes in the constituency.
Since campaign started on September 15, there have been ugly scenes in the constituency with reports of intimidation and terror, particularly between followers of the governing DPP and MCP.
The MCP has been accusing the DPP of using its youth cadets to prevent it from engaging the electorate by blocking roads and breaking their cars, but DPP has disowned the rampaging youths, saying they do not belong to the party.
“We are calling on leaders of political parties and their aspirants that as days are drawing near, they should uphold the values of peace and peaceful co-existence,” he said.
Nsanje-Lalanje Constituency fell vacant following the death of the then legislator, Sam Ganda, of DPP on May 16 2017.