Malawiâ€™s ruling Peopleâ€™s Party (PP) on Tuesday started open elections for its provincial committees in preparation for a national convention next month, an exercise that can make or break the party.
Chairperson for the provincial (regional) elections Paul Maulidi said the polls are open to all bonafide members of the party and that nobody can be protected from his or her position as it has to be a choice of the people.
The PP elections at regional level are the first for a ruling party in the country in almost a decade. The United Democratic Front (UDF) last held a competitive convention in September 2003 while the Malawi Congress Party (MCP) and the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) are yet to conduct their competitive regional and national elections since 2005.
The first PP provincial elections were held at Liwonde on Tuesday for the Eastern Region, the home of party leader President Joyce Banda, while this Wednesday, elections for the Central Region will be held at the Natural Resources College in Lilongwe.
The Southern Province will have its slogan â€œpower to the peopleâ€ when they converge on Saturday whereas the Northern Region will undergo its exercise on Monday, according to Maulidi.
The elections to watch include those for the Southern, Eastern and Northern regions where there has been a lot of power struggle between newcomers, mainly from DPP and those that are perceived to be founders of the party.
â€œCandidates fill forms on the position that they are interested in. After that, they are declared on the floor. It is an open process. Once they are seconded, we will have secret ballots of the official delegates to the regional meetings,â€ explained Maulidi.
He said the party wanted to exercise its self-professed democratic values as such there were no preferred candidates including founding members, saying such a tradition of anointing people for positions did not belong to PP.
â€œNobody is protected. The main delegates are chairmen for the main body, youth and women. It depends on oneâ€™s performance and interaction with such groups. So, in terms of protecting anybody, it should be the people that they work with and not anybody from the people who will choose them,â€ said Maulidi.