Abida Mia factor helps MCP pip DPP in Nsanje-Lalanje by-elections

While nine parties of the Tonse Alliance failed to beat DPP in Nkhata Bay, Malawi Congress Party (MCP) has whipped Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) in Nsanje-Lalanje by-election with the help of Firebrand Lands and Housing deputy minister, Lower Shire Giant, Abida Mia who intensified campaign in the area.

MCP candidate for Nsanje-Lalanje ward, Abdulhackeem Annuary Hassan, with the Abida Mia effect, won the elections for a ward councillor on Tuesday against DPP’s Gerald Paul and two independent candidates Fraction Lapozo and Henry Benford Seda.

Workaholic Abida Mia on the campaign trail

Dubbed the ‘Giant of the Lower Shire, who is also nicknamed iron Lady, Abida Mia camped in Nsanje-Lalanje and campaigned vigorously to make sure that MCP wins the by-election and keep MCP alive in the Lower States.

According to the Malawi Electoral Commission (MEC) Nsanje-Lalanje a total of 17,937 registered voters and out of that number, a total of 6,935 voters turned up for polling – this represents 38.66% percent voter turnout – there were 81 null and void votes.

This represents 1.17% percent of the total votes cast.

MEC chair Justice Dr Chifundo Kachale announcing the official results said Abdulhackeem Annuary Hassan of the MCP won the election in Nsanje Lalanje with a total of 3,448 votes while DPP’s Gerald Paul trailed behind in second place with 2,756 votes while independent candidates Henry Benford Seda and Fraction Lapozo got 599 votes and 51votes respectively.

Dr. Kachale said MEC noted that every time there are by-elections there is generally low voter turnout but in the current case there has been an improvement.

He said MEC generally encourages women and people with disabilities to participate in politics.

Said Kachale: “The Commission has always maintained a 50 percent discount on nomination fees for women and persons with disabilities and 75 percent for the youth as an incentive for them to participate in elections as candidates. For these elections there were 13 candidates in all the areas of which only two were women. Fortunately, one won.

“There were no youths or persons with disabilities participating in the elections as candidates. On the contrary, the MEC continues to encounter more women registering and showing up for voting than men. We also observes active participation of the youths during campaign activities”.

Dr. Kachale, therefore, urged political parties and stakeholders to take some decisive actions to encourage more women, youths, and persons with disabilities to stand as candidates in elections.

In an interview, Lands and Housing deputy minister, Abida Mia she is happy and contented that MCP had won in Nsanje-Lalanje ward.

“I am proud of my team. We put up a gallant fight against the DPP, who had all the hopes thst they will win easily, but with hard work and God on our side, we made it. We will keep working hard to make sure that MCP gains a good political ground in the Lower States and everywhere else across the country,” said Mia.

Mia, who is also a Parliamentarian for Chikwawa-Nkombedzi, vigorously campaigned for other aspirants for Nsanje North, Enock Chizuzu and another candidate for Nsanje Central, Kafanikhale Mandevana, respectively, who were both contesting in by-elections in March this year, and both candidates won the ‘Abida Mia effect.’

Abida Mia has helped MCP win all the by-elections in Nsanje and Chikwawa representing a 100 percent win record.

Mia, who appears to be widely loved and appreciated in the Lower Shire States due to her benevolence and her people-centred politics approach called on the people in the area and the country as a whole to be united and remember that before anything else everyone is Malawian first and, therefore, one people.

“Let us be united. We are Malawians first and foremost. We might differ in political opinions or belong to different political parties, but we are all one people. Let us work together to develop our country.

“Malawi President, Dr. Lazarus Chakwera believes in unity and does not want divisions among the people because of tribes, political party differences or religious belief differences. And I would like all of us to take that belief that we are all Malawians and must love one another,” said Mia.

Speaking earlier, veteran politician and former minister in various portfolios, John Bande who is currently Member of Parliament (MP) for Blantyre East said it is difficult for an MP or a councillor who is in opposition to fulfil developmental projects in his or her area saying it is on that basis that he defected from the DPP to MCP.

“Vote for the MCP candidate for development. It is easy for someone who is already in government to get development funded than those in opposition, ” said Bande.

The MCP campaign rally in Nsanje was also graced by Elias Karim, who is the MCP deputy director of research and Member of Parliament for Nsanje North Enock Chizuzu, who all advised the MCP ward council aspirant for Nsanje-Lalanje not to neglect the people in his area once elected.

Malawi Electoral Commissioner (MEC) Commissioner, Richard Chapweteka who is on a campaign monitoring trail in the district in an interview with Nyasa Times expressed satisfaction with the progress of the campaign so far, saying no incidence of violence has been registered unlike in the previous by-elections.

“So far, so good. The campaign is going on really well and we, as MEC, are happy that there is no violence at all and we commend all the key players involved in these elections”, said Chapweteka.

Chapweteka has however called on political parties including independent candidates competing for the upcoming by elections in the area to avoid conducting their campaign meetings in next proximity to each other saying that could be a recipe for violence.

District Commissioner for Nsanje, Dr Medson Matchaya, it was pleasing to note that the Nsanje-Lalanje By-elections were peaceful.

“We have not had issues of electoral violence and we are very sure that even the voting process will be violent free,” said Matchaya.

The Local Government seat fell vacant following the death of the area’s councillor who died

Political commentators and analysts say Abida Mia is a big asset for MCP and her WOW factor that could help the party flourish in the Lower Shire as well as the southern region.

“Abida (Mia) is one of the most powerful political figures in Malawi but she has always walking under the shadows of her late husband, the late Mohamed Sidik Mia, who died earlier this year after succumbing to Covid-19. She is a shrewd politician in her own right and a political influencer and I hope President Chakwera knows her potential,” said a political analyst from the University of Malawi’s Chancellor College who opted for anonymity.

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