Some main political parties have said preparations for primary elections in readiness for the 2019 Tripartite Elections are at an advanced stage.
In an interview yesterday, opposition Malawi Congress Party (MCP) publicity secretary the Reverend Maurice Munthali said the party will hold primary elections next month in all the country’s 193 constituencies.
He said all male candidates aspiring for the position of member of Parliament (MP) will pay a non-refundable, administrative fee of K50 000 while their female counterparts will pay K40 000. Aspirants for ward councillor positions will, however, pay K10 000 each.
He said: “The primary elections will be conducted in all constituencies unconditionally; this includes even the constituency where our president Dr. Lazarus Chakwera comes from. The party, through its national executive committee [NEC], is advising all leaders at every level not to support or favour any particular candidate at the disadvantage of others.
“We want the primary elections to be free, fair and credible enough so that every contestant will be satisfied with the outcome.”
But in a separate interview, MCP legislator for Salima North West Jessie Kabwila claimed the party is imposing its preferred candidates in some constituencies by skipping party structures.
She said: “There are several signs that the party has its own candidates in the forthcoming primary elections. For instance, in my constituency, the constituent committee which was working with me was dissolved by the district chairman and just on the weekend, there was a funeral and the district chairperson sent someone to represent me while I was there. Yet I am still a member of the party. This is not democratic.”
Reports also indicate that the party has also endorsed a candidate in Dedza East which has another MCP legislator, Juliana Lunguzi.
When contacted, Lunguzi refused to comment on the matter.
On endorsing candidates in some constituencies such as Salima North West, Munthali said party members must forget what happened and start afresh as the primary elections draw closer.
On its part, the governing Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) said it will also hold its primary elections next month.
DPP spokesperson Nicholas Dausi said the primary elections will be democratic, free and fair, allowing every aspirant to contest.
But President Peter Mutharika in his rallies in the Northern Region over the weekend has been telling people to vote for certain individuals.
Dausi said the party will not hold primary elections is areas where candidates are strong and have no contestants.
“There are certain constituencies where we think candidates are so strong and we will not hold the primary elections unless some will show interest,” he said.
United Democratic Front (UDF) said the party will hold primary election in October.
UDF publicity secretary Ken Ndanga said the party will conduct primary elections in all constituencies and that the party will not endorse any candidate.
But immediate past governing party, People’s Party (PP) publicity secretary Noah Chimpeni said in a separate interview that the party has not set dates for primary elections.
Commenting on parties endorsing aspiring candidates, Mzuzu-based political analyst Emily Mkamanga condemned parties which impose candidates.
She said: “To say the truth this is very wrong. It has to be people themselves at constituency level choosing the person. Leaders should not give people names. This is how democracy is all about.”
On his part, social and political commentator Rafik Hajat echoed Mkamanga’s comments, saying it is undemocratic for leaders to impose candidates.
Next year the country will have tripartite elections. The voters’ registration exercise, which will be in eight phases, is in second phase in Mchinji, Nkhotakota, Dowa and Ntchisi. The final phase is expected to complete in November. n