It was a rare night of open-air partying for Malawi Congress Party (MCP) supporters in Nsanje Lalanje Constituency as they celebrated the election of their candidate Lawrence Sitolo.
Young men and women wearing red MCP T-shirts and zitenje danced and sang while beating buckets in villages and trading centres along the Nsanje-Chikwawa Road until early morning on Wednesday.
Motorcycles and vehicles honked as people flooded and blocked the road in the darkness.
The supporters of the newly-elected legislator broke into song and dance around 1am after it became evident that their candidate had carried the day while counting was still in progress. They continued to around 8am yesterday.
As vote counting was underway at Bangula Primary School, the main tally centre, hundreds gathered to follow the proceedings before final votes eventually favoured Sitolo.
However, things took an ugly turn between 6am and 7am when some unruly celebrants started pulling down and burning blue flags belonging to the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP). The DPP members never retaliated.
At Phokera, Sorgin and Bangula trading centres—the two main polling centres— there was an invigorating atmosphere as people wandered around till late to follow the events.
A festive mood engulfed the two centres as people expressed their emotions after the announcement of the final results.
“I am extremely delighted and relieved that he has finally carried the day after months of anxiety,” said 67-year-old woman identified as Nanzika.
Most people interviewed after the election said they could not give their vote to a “foreigner”.
“People just wanted Sitolo to win. Even if he had stood as a DPP candidate or on any other ticket he would still have won,” stated Augusto Petros, an entrepreneur at Bangula Trading Centre.
This was the third time Sitolo was contesting as a parliamentary candidate after two attempts as an independent candidate and then under the Peoples Party (PP) ticket in 2014.
In Tuesday’s parliamentary contest, Sitolo’s main challenger was DPP’s Gladys Ganda. The MP-elect scooped 8 775 votes against Ganda’s 5 453 while the third aspirant, Winnie Wakudyanaye, got 193 votes.