As Malawi inches towards the landmark fresh presidential election slated for Tuesday, opposition hopefuls have taken campaign to their strongholds where they will be making final promises in exchange for votes.
On the other hand, the DPP-UDF torch-bearer President Peter Mutharika, who has made few appearances in the campaign, is expected to wrap up the search for votes with rallies in Rumphi, Chitipa and Karonga today, after addressing meetings in Kasungu, Mzimba and Mzuzu on Friday.
The official campaign period ends tomorrow at 6am.
While Mutharika has made few appearances during this campaign, especially towards the end, it is his running mate Atupele Muluzi who has been on the ground since the launch of the official campaign period on May 2.
Malawi Congress Party (MCP) president Lazarus Chakwera who leads the nine-party Tonse Alliance will wind up his campaign at Masintha ground in the capital Lilongwe, one of the nine Central Region districts where MCP commands its greatest support.
State Vice-President Saulos Chilima, who is Chakwera’s running mate under the Tonse Alliance banner, will be at Nyambadwe ground in Blantyre, according to MCP director of elections, Moses Kunkuyu.
“We are geared to finish giving the people of Malawi our promises,” said Kunkuyu on Friday.
The front runners in Tuesday’s elections are Chakwera alongside Chilima; Mutharika alongside Atupele and Peter Kuwani of Mbakuwaku Movement for Development (MMD) and whose running mate is MacLeonard Kalawang’oma.
About 6.8 million Malawians registered to vote in the election which the High Court sitting as a Constitutional Court on February 3 ordered to be held within 150 days after it nullified the May 21 2019 presidential election due to what it described as “widespread irregularities”. The Malawi Supreme Court of Appeal upheld the ruling after President Peter Mutharika and the Malawi Electoral Commission (MEC)appealed to the higher court.
Meanwhile, MEC chief elections officer Sam Alfandika has warned candidates and their supporters against campaigning beyond the official campaign period. In a statement issued on Friday, Alfandika urges religious leaders to be aware of this issue as some politicians may use churches to campaign.
“[MEC] would like to announce that any person, candidate or political party planning any campaign rally should do it before the stated time. Anyone found contravening this will face the full wrath of the law,” said Alfandika.
During the campaign period, both alliances have made wide ranging promises to Malawians, some of them carried over from the nullified May 21 209 elections.
One of the key promises for the Tonse Alliance in the current campaign is universal reduction of the price of fertiliser from the current K23 000 to K4 495 per 50-kilogramme bag. Other promises are provision of descent houses, creation of one million jobs and introduction of a monthly financial support of K15 000 to the elderly.
On its part, the DPP-UDF alliance has, among other issues, promised to continue with youth empowerment programmes through provision of technical skills and loans, creation of jobs for the youth programme, empowering women in various sectors and ensuring peaceful co-existence and justice. Others are introduction of electronic coupon system for the Farm Input Subsidy Programme (Fisp) to make it more efficient and distribution of free internet bundles to promote the use of technology.
The campaign period was marred with violence and intimidation which saw some people from both sides of the political divide being injured and some property destroyed.
National police spokesperson James Kadadzera confirmed that the police received a number of complaints about violence and intimidation and said the institution is investigating all complaints.
He added that the police will ensure that the campaign period ends peacefully at 6am tomorrow and that there will be tight security during and after polling, counting and announcement of the results.
Political analyst Ernest Thindwa said the presidential aspirants have a final chance to win the vote of Malawians, adding that failure to use the opportunity well would be costly.
Another political analyst George Phiri said today’s generation is enlightened and people vote according to campaign promises they get and how achievable they sound.
“People no longer vote on tribal and regional lines as it used to be in past elections. Today’s rallies are important because it’s the issues which the candidates will articulate that matter in attracting people,” he said.