Independent presidential aspirant Ras David Chikomeni Chirwa’s supporters were yesterday disappointed after Malawi Electoral Commission (MEC) deferred the hopeful’s nomination papers for falling short on requirements.
The supporters, who came with pomp to welcome and cheer their candidate, appeared disappointed that Chikomeni’s nomination papers could not be accepted as he had not yet paid the K2 million nomination fee and also failed to collect 10 signatures in each of the country’s 28 districts. According to MEC, Chikomeni managed signatories from nine districts.
The jam-packed hall went in uproar at MEC chairperson Jane Ansah’s announcement that the nomination had been deferred, with the supporters chanting tisonkhe! tisonkhe! (Let us contribute) and tisaine (let us sign).
Chikomeni had to be whisked away by his team before journalists could interview him.
But some patrons were overheard making fun of the whole event, saying Chikomeni was there just to test the waters.
Speaking to journalists later, highest priest in the Rastafarian movement elder Ras Nimrod Chilambe was upbeat that they will meet the requirements before Friday as advised by MEC.
He expressed disappointment that Chikomeni did not update them on the issues raised.
Said Chilambe: “We did not know he had not met the requirements. It is unfortunate that there was a communication breakdown. We will raise the money and get the required number of signatures before Friday. It is every rasta’s dream that Chikomeni stands in this election. It is for the good of every Malawian.”
Meanwhile, rastas have started mobilising funds through various social media platforms to enable Chikomeni return to Comesa Hall for submission of nomination papers.
Unlike Chikomeni who arrived on a Toyota Corolla in a convoy of three vehicles with most of his supporters walking to the venue, Chilima arrived at Comesa Hall driving a red Toyota Hilux with most of his supporters being ferried to the venue in hired vehicles painted in party colours.
Earlier on the day, thousands of UTM Party supporters braved the rains to witness their Vice-President and the party’s leader Saulos Chilima present his nomination papers.
After unveiling Michael Usi as his running mate and submitting his papers, Chilima and Usi left in a flamboyant manner as the Vice-President drove a tractor with his running mate on the passenge’s seat.
Chikomeni picked his 68-year-old mother Nyness Catherine Kayange as his running mate, saying she is an experienced retired civil servant.
Today, MEC is expected to receive nomination papers from United Democratic Front (UDF) leader Atupele Muluzi from 11am and Cassim Chilumpha of Assembly of Democracy and Development (ADD) from 2pm.