- Parties negotiating electoral deals
- MCP confirms meeting PP
As 2019 elections are only seven months away, political parties are busy jostling for strategic partners to shore up their chances of winning the presidential race, Weekend Nation can reveal.
If successfully negotiated, contestants in the forthcoming presidential elections will be fewer but with a wider reach beyond their political base, a sharp contrast from the 2014 presidential elections in which 12 candidates took part with eight of them getting less than 2 percent of the votes each.
In an interview on Thursday, Malawi Congress party (MCP) spokesperson Maurice Munthali confirmed what he described as “unofficial” talks on alliances with several parties including the People’s Party (PP).
“Every political party is now looking at the possibility of an electoral alliance but what is happening now is a very initial stage and we cannot conclusively describe them as electoral alliance talks.
“Presidents are talking at that level but the parties have not entered into official discussions. But the underlining factor is that possibilities are there and as MCP, we have an open-door policy so we cannot rule out the issue of an alliance,” said Munthali.
University of Livingstonia political scientist George Phiri observed it was not surprising that major political parties were battling for alliances because they know chances were slim for them to win next year’s elections individually.
“Almost all parties have been gripped with fear of losing next year’s elections as a result they would want to amass the potential that is there for them to win the elections,” he said.
In an interview yesterday PP secretary general Ibrahim Matola confirmed that MCP has approached his party for a possible electoral alliance.
The PP SG also claimed the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) and United Transformation Movement (UTM) have approached the former ruling party, a move the two parties have not confirmed.
Said Matola: “All major political parties have approached us except the United Democratic Front [UDF], perhaps because they are already working with the DPP. However, as NEC [national executive committee], we are yet to make up our mind on who to partner with during the polls.”
He said the party would be coming up with a decision by next week when the NEC is expected to meet. The meeting delayed because the party president Joyce Banda was in Liberia.
He said Banda already declared that PP would enter into an alliance with any party having assessed the country’s political environment and figured out that no political party could win next year’s polls by itself.
“So, as PP, we are certainly going into an alliance but as regards with who, the NEC will decide,” he added.
While some smaller opposition parties already formed a bloc and are working on who to pick as their torchbearer, the major parties are also strategically repositioning themselves and negotiating electoral deals to ensure they do not miss the 2019 train.
UTM secretary general Patricia Kaliati declined to comment if her movement has approached PP for an electoral alliance and referred Weekend Nation to the movement’s spokesperson Joseph Chidanti-Malunga who said he could not talk because he was attending a funeral.
But last month UTM leader Saulos Chilima who is also the country’s Vice-President met PP leader in Zomba. But both Chilima and Banda denied discussing a political working relationship.
The meeting by the two leaders came two months after Chilima told journalists in Lilongwe that he was discussing with some poltical parties to form a grand coalition in the 2019 polls.
Elements of Banda and Chilima’s political working partnership were also evident a fortnight ago, when the latter reserved his comment on suggestions that Banda’s anti-corruption record was poor when he featured as a guest in the BBC highly-rated programme, HARDtalk.
Other parties such as the United Independence Party (UIP) are also individually negotiating with the erstwhile governing party to work and contest next year’s unpredictable elections together.
UIP spokesperson Asante Masache confirmed his party was in high-level talks with PP to go in a partnership and were finalising the memorandum of understanding (MoU).
Phiri said PP could be the most sought after party because it is the former ruling party and after its leader indicated on arrival from her four-year self-imposed exile that she was prepared to either go into an alliance in the 2019 presidential elections if her party endorsed her or contest the polls as presidential candidate.
Banda later competed in the PP’s elective national convention held in Blantyre last month and won with a landslide.
Asked about the claim that the DPP had approached PP for a possible alliance, DPP spokesperson Nicholas Dausi said he was not aware of his party’s attempts to join forces with PP which formed government between 2012 and 2014.
“I don’t know if there have been any talks as regards that issue,” said Dausi, who is also government official spokesperson.
Further asked about DPP’s stand regarding getting into any political coalition, the spokesperson said it was too early for them to talk about that. DPP has been in a working relationship with the UDF whose leader Atupele Muluzi is a Cabinet minister.
In November last year, a 10-member PP delegation comprising members of Parliament (MP) met President Peter Mutharika at Kamuzu Palace in Lilongwe to discuss a possible working relationship.
Ironically, PP was then one of the 15 opposition political parties, mostly comprising those not represented in Parliament, which formed the Tikonze Dziko Lathu alliance before leaving the group. PP and Alliance for Democracy (Aford) were the only two parties with representation in Parliament.
PP’s decision to leave the alliance also created room for UTM to start discussing with some of the group’s membership and eventually roped in the United Transformation Party (UTP) which later rebranded to UTM.
The State House meeting with Mutharika resulted in cracks within the rank and file of PP before some of its legislators such as Malani Mtonga of Karonga South and Monkey legislator Ralph Jooma defected to the ruling party.