Former governing parties in the country on Thursday claimed they are aware of the tactics President Joyce Banda’s People’s Party (PP) might use to rig the May 20 Tripartite Elections.
Whereas the United Democratic Front (UDF) said the knowledge of rigging tactics does not mean it was doing the same when it was in power, the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) said “two wrongs do not make a right”.
During the last presidential debate in Blantyre on Tuesday evening, almost all the 11 participating presidential candidates expressed fears of rigging and asked the Executive and the Malawi Electoral Commission (MEC) to ensure free, fair and credible elections.
Asked how rigging is being done, UDF publicity secretary Ken Ndanga pointed at a number of things such as instilling fear in the voters using State apparatus, denying access to public broadcasters, messing up of voter’s roll, conducting and releasing bogus opinion polls and buying of voters’ certificates.
Ndanga’s counterpart in DPP, Nicholas Dausi, claimed that in some cases parties in power tend to introduce “dubious” vote tally centres, transferring of district commissioners (DCs) and teachers deemed not in favour of governing parties and infiltration of party members into the electoral body.
UDF ruled the country from 1994 to 2005 when former president the late Bingu wa Mutharika ditched the party barely one year in office to form DPP.
DPP was in charge from 2005 to April 2012 when Mutharika died, paving the way for then estranged Vice-President Joyce Banda and PP to complete the term of office.
Asked whether the UDF was doing the same when it was in power, Ndanga said no.
“We have never rigged an election but we know that it can be rigged,” said the UDF’s publicity secretary.
Dausi said two wrongs could not make a right. He refused to explain.
But Happy Kayuni, associate professor in political and administration studies at Chancellor College, a constituent college of the University of Malawi, said the former governing parties’ disclosure of rigging styles can be interpreted differently.
He said: “For you and me, we can conclude that they are aware of rigging styles because they have been in government before and, probably, practised them. This is a picture that is given to us.”
Kayuni suggested that the disclosure of rigging styles is designed to intimidate the party in power and make it know that they are aware of all the malpractices that can be used.
PP acting publicity secretary Ken Msonda said there is no need to fear about rigging when the big parties have commissioners in MEC.
“May be there are tactics some of them have been using when they were in government which we don’t know. Otherwise the fear of rigging is an excuse that if they lose, which they will anyway, they should find a reference. At first, they were talking about Cashgate (where billions of kwacha was stolen in government) but after realising that it will not work, they are talking about rigging, which is unfortunate,” said Msonda.