With only nine days before Malawians go to the polls, Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) vice-president for the North, Goodall Gondwe, has revealed the anxiety he faces as his party campaigns to retain power in what is expected to be a highly contested election.
In his speech at the European Union Day in Lilongwe Friday night, Gondwe gave out a surprising statement when he described himself as an ‘endangered species’.
Gondwe, who largely spoke off the prepared speech, stunned the audience, which included diplomats, government officials, members of the civil society and private sector, when he said he could be speaking at such a function in his capacity as a Cabinet minister for the last time, as he was not sure of the outcome of the elections.
“I have a confession to make. Very late yesterday, when His Excellency [Peter Mutharika] asked me to be here, being a much endangered species that I am now—not knowing what will happen to me on May 21—whether my party wins or not, I am still an endangered species.
“And when he asked me to be here, I wondered what could be in his head. Is he trying to tell me that for the last time I will represent my country or he still has confidence in me? So, people in my position have a lot of things to think about these days. Your Excellency, talked about elections…I can assure you when it concerns you it is not as exciting as you made it clear,” said Gondwe amid laughter and murmurs.
Gondwe painted a picture of how hard the DPP is working to retain power. He said for the past two months he has not done anything else but going round canvassing for votes. But even with this effort, according to Gondwe, he is not so certain if his party will win or not.
“I always try to see, to gauge what these people are thinking – will they support my party or not. They never give you an indication. These are anxious days for me and a number of other people,” he added.
In 2014, DPP made a 36.4 percent surprise presidential votes win from the opposition, beating incumbent president Joyce Banda whose People’s Party (PP) came third. MCP came second, with a difference of about 400 000 votes.
Turning to his prepared speech, Gondwe thanked the EU and other development partners for the untiring support they provide to Malawi.
In an interview, EU Ambassador Sandra Paesen said she hoped for peaceful elections.
With rigging claims making rounds, the EU envoy expressed confidence in the Malawi Electoral Commission (MEC) that it will hold free and fair elections. She said the rigging claims were just an indication of emotions getting high ahead of the polls.
The DPP has three main rivals in this election—Malawi Congress Party (MCP), which is in alliance with former president Joyce Banda’s People’s Party (PP) and Freedom Party (PP), Vice-President Saulos Chilima’s UTM and the United Democratic Front which has Minister of Health Atupele Muluzi as its torchbearer.