Former president Joyce Banda’s People’s Party (PP) says it has learnt a bitter lesson from the May 20 Tripartite Elections defeat and feels betrayed by Malawians who used to flood its rallies, under the guise of being party followers, during the campaign period.
In official results for the presidential race announced by Malawi Electoral Commission (MEC) last Friday, Banda finished third with 20.2 percent of the national vote behind Lazarus Chakwera of Malawi Congress Party (MCP) who got 28.7 percent on second position and the eventual winner Peter Mutharika of Democratic Progressive Party (DPP).
In the parliamentary race, PP got 26 seats in the 193-member National Assembly behind independents who got a total of 52 seats, DPP with 50 seats and MCP which got 48 seats.
In an interview on Wednesday, PP national governing council member Elias Wakuda Kamanga, who is Banda’s spokesperson, said while it was possible for a political party in power to lose polls, PP is still figuring out what might have happened to be relegated to third position.
He said his party is still harbouring serious suspicions on how it finished third when all along indications pointed to a landslide victory.
Said Kamanga: “We have learnt bitter lessons, but overall the outcome has told us that a ruling party can also lose elections. However, we are still figuring out what might have really happened for us to finish on third position even in the face of a massive political campaign as well as several noble projects the Joyce Banda administration had put in place.
“We are also wondering that when Malawians were coming to our presidential rallies in huge numbers were they coming to watch, to pass time or to please somebody? Because going by the numbers, one could see victory all over.”
However, Kamanga said the election results had also eroded voters’ confidence in the electoral process and will make it difficult for them to believe whether their future votes would yield the intended product.
Stressed Kamanga: “If you lose honourably, it makes another way of looking at elections, but if you lose with a lot of anomalies unattended to, it greatly creates anxiety and regret for the future.”
Commenting on PP’s issues, political commentator Mustafa Hussein said in spite of the reported irregularities, it was difficult to understand how the party in power fell so embarrassingly.
He said: “However, without speculating, I would suggest that may be being a new party it did not sell itself to the grass roots as such it had no stronghold. Similarly, it could be that the party’s contesting parliamentarians did not do their best to drum up support for the party to excel in the polls.”
PP was born from a grouping called Friends of Joyce Banda in early 2011 after Banda was expelled from DPP in December 2010 for allegedly forming parallel party structures to position herself for succession in the then governing party that has now regained power.
In April 2012, Banda ascended to the presidency in line with constitutional order after the death of her then boss, former president Bingu wa Mutharika. Thus, PP came to power without a vote.