A political debate organized by the National Initiative for Civic Education (NICE) Trust in Mbalachanda ward in Mzimba saw only a Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) candidate showing up for the event with two others opting to stay away.
Nevertheless, the debate took place in which DPP’s Moses Kamanga answered questions from a multitude of the electorate that had turned up for the event at Mbalachanda TDC hall on Wednesday.
Accompanied by the party’s regional governor for the north, Keneth Sanga and other party officials from the region, Kamanga was the toast of the day as he braved a barrage of questions from chiefs, religious leaders and members from the area.
He said the absence of his competitors signified that they feared him.
Speaking in an interview after the function, Sanga said the DPP values public debates and takes all elections seriously.
“For us in the DPP, by-elections are serious business just like any other elections. We also take public debates seriously. This is why Icame to encourage our candidate. For those that have absconded, I can say they do not take these debates or elections seriously,” said Sanga.
“Government has given us a chance to elect our councillors. It is a second chance since the dawn of multiparty democracy in the country. So we have to use this opportunity. People should come in large numbers and vote for a leader that will help them,” he said.
Two other candidates – John Chipeta of Peoples Party and Davis Manda, an independent – did not show up for the debate. They did not send a representative either.
When contacted, Manda said he communicated that he could not attend the debate because he was attending a funeral. Chipeta could not be reached on several occasions.
Said Manda: “I did not come because I was attending a funeral; but I recognize the fact that these debates are very important.”
NICE regional civic education officer for the north Enock Chinkhuntha said it was encouraging that many people, including chiefs and religious leaders turned up for the debate.
“For the candidates that did not show, it’s up to the people to judge; we cannot speak for them. As NICE, we gave people a platform tointeract with their prospective leaders. Debates encourage dialogue between the leaders and the electorate. In the end, we are promoting transparency and accountability,” said Chinkhuntha.
“This is our election. Let us come in large numbers to cast our vote to choose leaders of our choice. Remember bad leaders are chosen bygood people that do not vote. For the party leaders, let us campaign responsibly without conflicts,” he added.
During the debate, most contributors lamented that Mbalachanda was a dry area where clean water is difficult to come by.
“Our women, daughters and granddaughters are suffering. Some of them do not have hair on top of their heads because of carrying waterbuckets for long distances – 4 kilometres in other instances – looking for water. This has to stop,” said one contributor.
Group Village Headman Chikoma Botha said whoever was going to make it in the by-elections should engage the Council to rehabilitatefacilities like markets and community hall in the area. He wondered how the council uses the money it collects from businesspersons in rural markets saying the markets are not being renovated.
Voting did not take place on May 20 in Mbalachanda ward because the Malawi Electoral Commission did not supply ballot papers hence the by-elections.
Other by-elections will take place in Karonga’s Zgewa ward, Lifupa ward in Kasungu, Kande ward in Ntcheu and Linsanjala ward in Machinga.
At constituency level, by-elections will be conducted in Blantyre and Thyolo East constituencies.Follow and Subscribe Nyasa TV :