45 go unopposed in PP primaries, analysts speak out

The ruling Peoples Party (PP) just ended primary elections has seen more than 45 aspirants going through unopposed.

PP  has for over a month been conducting primary elections across the country to endorse Parliamentary candidates as well as councillors for the May 20th tripartite elections with some of the results thrown into disputes.

Nyasa Times sourced information as confirmed by the party’s executive officials, show that the party had three unopposed candidates in northern region, 25 in the central region, four in eastern region and 13 in southern region.

Some of the notable candidates endorsed victors following absence of challengers include Reverend Malani Mtonga, vice-president Khumbo Kachale, Halima Daudi, Tony Ngalande, Yusuf Matumula, Sidik Mia, Brown Mpinganjira, Ulemu Chilapondwa and Rajah Khani among others.

Mpinganjira: Mulanje strongman unopposed

Mpinganjira: Mulanje strongman unopposed

However, some political commentators suggest the scenario indicates how unpopular and weak the party is in the concerned constituencies thereby attracting little or no interest from people to join and compete in the elections.

Human rights activist and lawyer, Justice Dzonzi said: “This may mean that the party is not known on the grassroots level to a point that it can’t attract people to compete for its endorsement. But also it might be due to poor publicity; the party may not have done much work to establish itself on the ground as well as informing people more on the primaries”.

Dzonzi further hinted that most of the unopposed candidates might have benefited from the party’s internal propaganda that worked in their favour, adding the party might have deliberately closed doors for other interested members to participate in the elections.

“There could be propaganda by top party officials to discourage some of interested contestants in favour of others. Competition for political positions is usually strong in areas where the party is strongest; in this case PP has failed to demonstrate its strength in the concerned constituencies. The primaries were its first opportunity to test its popularity”.

He added: “Any party considering winning May 20th elections must first embrace primary elections with seriousness. Primaries help to create a political party’s brand name, which en enhance its chances and build good will. The more popular the party is, the more it is likely to win because politics is market-based system”.

Concurring with Dzonzi, University of Malawi’s Chancellor College-based political scientist, Dr. Mustapha Hussein said PP’s popularity could not be measured by number of unopposed candidates it endorsed but how much votes it will amass during the forthcoming tripartite elections.

“Having such number of unopposed candidates might suggest that the party is not popular in their respective constituencies or people don’t like to be associated with it. But it might also be the internal work that forced some of aspirants to pave way for candidates the party considers strong enough to represent it,” explained Hussein.

But PP Deputy Spokesperson, Ken Msonda rejected assumption that the party is weak in constituencies where candidates were unopposed.

“There are two reasons why candidates were unopposed in certain constituencies; it’s either the party is too strong in those constituencies or the candidates were too strong and no one dared to compete against him/her,” argued Msonda.

Msonda added: “We are happy and satisfied with the way these primaries were conducted, suffice to say in any election, be it political, religious or any, there are some challenges and as a party we anticipated to face such challenges. At the moment we are deliberating on disputes by some losing candidates. But all in all the party achieved its objective for adopting new voting system”.

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