Malawi Congress Party (MCP) says aspirants not satisfied with primary elections results can stand as independent candidates despite signing a commitment to stay in the party after losing the elections.
MCP publicity secretary the Reverend Maurice Munthali said this yesterday in an interview following complaints by MCP members over the way the party has been conducting its primary elections, leading some to declare themselves independent candidates.
A letter we have seen jointly authored by three aspirants, who are disputing results of primary elections the party held in Nsanje Central Constituency, demands the nullification of results and a re-run on the basis that the presiding officer did not follow procedures.
The letter, dated October 31 2018, addressed to director of elections for the South is signed by Hassan Goba, Jack Kaumphawi and Cubeless Mbalawira who were all declared losers in the primary polls held on October 30 2018.
The letter reads in part: “The procedure was flouted by those entrusted to conduct the elections which resulted into some members who were not legitimate taking part.”
In a telephone interview yesterday, Goba confirmed having written the letter but said the party was yet to respond. He said the petitioners were planning to engage leaders at national level.
“These problems are widespread here. Our neighbouring constituency Nsanje South West even in Nsanje South had the same problems.”
In Dedza East Constituency, Patrick Bandawe, who lost to Juliana Lunguzi, also claimed unfairness in the handling of primaries in his constituency.
But in a separate interview, MCP elections director Elias Chakwera said Bandawe’s grievances were addressed.
He said: “We had a meeting and Mr Bandawe has been assisted, that issue is over.”
Other MCP primary elections where controversies were reported include Lilongwe South West with incumbent legislator Rhino Chiphiko and Nancy Tembo; Lilongwe Mapuyu South where veteran politician Joseph Njobvuyalema lost to Edward Chileka Banda; and Salima North West where the party was forced to cancel the primary elections between incumbent Jesse Kabwila and newcomer Enock Phale.
But Munthali said: “To us this reflects that the demand for party’s candidature has soared.”
Chancellor College political science lecturer Ernest Thindwa warned, in an interview yesterday, that if not handled well, the situation could cost the party some seats.
MCP was the first party to start conducting primary elections after its convention and has since set the pace again to be the first to unveil its presidential running mate in business mogul Muhammad Sidik Mia.
The governing Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) has avoided conducting primary elections in constituencies where it has sitting MPs.