Three presidential running mates last night battled out in the final debate organised by Zodiak Broadcasting Station (ZBS), tackling some sticky issues that produced varying responses.
The trio of Mohammed Sidik Mia (Malawi Congress Party-MCP), Frank Mwenifumbo (United Democratic Front (UDF) and Michael Usi (UTM Party) faced each other at the Grand Palace Hotel in Mzuzu after two other contests in Lilongwe and Blantyre in previous weeks.
Debate topics last night ranged from same sex marriages which MCP and UDF outrightly said they would not tolerate if voted into power, saying they will let the law take its course against any deviants.
But UTM Party said it would subject the issue of allowing lesbians, gays, bisexuals, transgender and intersex (LGBTI) or not to a national referendum.
Usi said: “If they say yes, then we will go that way. If not, then we won’t. So, for us, we will have a people referendum.”
But Mia felt the LGBTI community is in minority; hence, a referendum would not be a fair arrangement.
The running mates also discussed how the country can deal with population growth, end corruption, the presidential age limit, political party financing and how they would manage the Malawi-Tanzania Lake Malawi border dispute.
While generally agreeing that the new Political Parties Act requires that party funders above K1 million be made public, the discussants were elusive to disclose their parties’ financiers.
But the trio stated that they would not get political campaign funding from companies seeking to exchange their pre-campaign goodwill with favours from their governments after the May 21 2019 Tripartite Elections.
On the presidential age limit, they all agreed that 75 should be the ceiling.
Meanwhile, Mzuzu-based governance commentator Moses Mkandawire has said while the debate was fair, the challenge was that the discussants failed to clearly explain where they will get funding for the projects.outlined in their manifestos
He said: “The only challenge is that we should have asked them where will they get the money to finance all those ambitious programmes in health, energy, education in view of the fiscal deficit which is now around K250 billion and the debt servicing.
“There was also some little understanding on international relations. Some issues are sensitive that you require some careful thought when responding to them in public.”
Earlier, host Joab Frank Chakhaza led the audience in wishing Mwenifumbo a happy birthday. n