Al Jazeera reports JB favourite to win Malawi ‘four-way presidential race’

Al-Jazeera has reported that many Malawians has told the influential Qatar-based international media house that they believe President Joyce Banda would win the May 20 elections in what is perceived to be a four-way presidential race.

In its report on their online, Al-Jazeera said Banda has “a narrow lead” over three other front runners Lazarus Chakwera of the opposition Malawi Congress Party (MCP), Atupele Muluzi of United Democratic Front (UDF) and Peter Mutharika of the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP).

Twelve presidential candidates will appear on the ballot paper.

Al-Jazeera  also noted  in its report a recent survey by Nyasa Times which found Banda garnering 30 percent of the vote, followed by Chakwera at 29 percent, Muluzi at 22 percent and Mutharika trailing with 19 percent.

President Banda: A strong contender
President Banda: A strong contender

Rafik Hajat, the executive director of the Institute for Policy Interaction, a think-tank, is quoted saying Banda may suffer votes from “urban intelligentsia .“

But he pointed out that  “votes mostly come from rural areas, where over 60 percent of the population lives. There, [Joyce Banda] has been pursuing her pro-poor initiatives, which have great impact on rural people as she is portraying a caring mother’s image.”

In the article, Ernest Thindwa, a political science lecturer at the University of Malawi said the top four candidates have all certain advantages over the others.

“We have the ruling People’s Party; they have an advantage of the incumbency. By virtue of being in government they have access to public resources. For example, [state-owned] media is giving more coverage to the ruling party compared to other political parties, so this could be a deciding factor,” he said.

Al-Jazeera also highlighted the analysis of the  UK-based think-tank Economist Intelligence Unit (EIU)  which predicted Banda would win amid a split vote between the opposition parties.

“Helped by a crackdown on graft, a split opposition, and the benefits of incumbency, we expect Mrs Banda and her People’s Party to secure another mandate,” stated the EIU brief.

Nevertheless, the EIU predicted the May 20 elections will be “tightly fought”.

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