Afrobarometer to release ‘credible’ survey results for Malawi elections

As Malawi prepares for her first ever tripartite elections on May 20,  Afrobarometer an African-led independent,  nonpartisan network of survey researchers and analysts set to release “the most credible” opinion polls of the tripartite elections.

Out of 12 presidential pretenders, only four candidates currently stand a chance of occupying State House after the polls – President Joyce Banda of the People’s Party (PP), Atupele Muluzi of the United Democratic Front (UDF), Peter Mutharika of the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) and Reverend Lazarus Chakwera of the Malawi Congress Party (MCP).

In April, Research Tech Consultants released findings of an opinion poll which favoured President Joyce Banda to win the presidential race.

However, opposition, political commentators and  other  electoral stakeholders questioned the credibility of the poll.

Four front runners- Malawi 2014 presidential candidates: Joyce Banda, Lazarus Chakwera, Atupele Muluzi and Peter Mutharika
Four front runners- Malawi 2014 presidential candidates: Joyce Banda, Lazarus Chakwera, Atupele Muluzi and Peter Mutharika

A prediction by the London-based Economist Intelligence Unit (EIU) followed by an opinion poll conducted by Nyasa Times online and face-to-face interviews also tipped Banda to win the elections.

The opposition have also issued conflicting polls over their popularity.

One poll suggests Chakwera will win the elections, another says Mutharika will emerge the winner. UDF Spokesman Ken Manga also said the party carried its research which indicates its presidential candidate Atupele Muluzi will win.

The Afrobarometer has previously predicted past Malawi elections including former ruling party DPP’s landslide victory in the 2009 elections.

In their survey in 2012, Afrobraometer predicted that Banda is likely to win the 2014 presidential elections with a small margin.

According to one of Afro barometer’s lead investigators in Malawi, Joseph Chunga from Chancellor College, the poll indicated that PP is the most supported party trailed by DPP and UDF.

“The results showed that slightly under half – 46 percent – of likely voters would have voted for PP presidential candidate if elections were held mid-2012. Unless there are real shocks on the political scene, this can also reflect on the 2014 polls,” Chunga said.

Malawi Electoral Commission (MEC) chairperson Maxon Mbendera has warned that opinion polls can hurt and contribute to voter apathy if not handled with care.

Speaking in Lilongwe on Saturday evening during a Gala Dinner Awards Ceremony organised by the Media Institute of Southern Africa (Misa) Malawi Chapter as part of celebrations of World Press Freedom Day which falls on May 3, Mbendera said opinion polls conducted by institutions or individuals of questionable credibility should not be highlighted.

Mbendera, who is a judge of the Malawi Supreme Court of Appeal, media should assess the validity of the opinion polls and ensure that they use acceptable methods of conducting surveys.

Afrobarometer works with national partners in each country for survey implementation and in Malawi its partner is the Centre for Social Research of University of Malawi.

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