Battle for Mzimba intensifies: DPP and PP hots up campaign

As count down to the closely contested October 9 Mzimba by-election approaches, situation has remained tense on the ground with fierce rivals, the ruling Peoples’ Party (PP) and opposition Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) unleashing all their arsenals at disposal in a desperate bid to outdo each other.

The battle lines between the two parties have been drawn in all the two constituencies namely Mzimba South-West and Mzimba Central that fell vacant following the appointment of Khumbo Kachali as the country’s vice president and the death of Prof. Donton Mkandawire respectively.

PP, DPP campsites

Meanwhile, PP, DPP, Independent candidates as well as the Alliance for Democracy (Aford) have been garnering support across the district as closing of the campaign period draw nearer.

In Mzimba Central, both PP and the DPP have camped in various places across the vast constituency that partly borders neighboring Zambia but the main drama is at Euthini trading center where the two rivals have camped opposite to each other with just a road separating them.

Promises

In his address to a crowd that gathered at Kapiringo and Chimango school grounds, PP’s director of Religious Affairs Rev. Malani Mtonga, who is also senior aide to President Joyce Banda, touched on a wide range of issues ranging from improved health service delivery, food security and better lives and reliable mode of transport once his party’s candidate is voted into parliament.

He blamed previous regimes for neglecting the area which he said has remained underdeveloped throughout history despite its strategic geographical position.

Mtonga also urged the voters to show appreciation to president Banda for appointing Kachali as state vice president by voting for PP candidate Aram Beza.

Rev Mtonga: PP to win

“This campaign is not about who has dished lots of money rather it is about choosing your destiny. Our government has already shown commitment to improve the living standards of people,” said Mtonga.

“ Yes things are tough but we all know the reasons and we are in the process of normalizing the situation in order to ease the suffering. There are so many problems in this constituency and they cannot all be sorted at once.

“However, as government we have picked on key priority areas we think can help improve the situation here; we have already started rehabilitating roads across the constituency for easy access to the boma; we will make sure that most households benefit from the fertilizer subsidy programme; the rural health centers are already undergoing rehabilitation and young girls with MSCE are being identified for community midwifery training under the safe motherhood umbrella,” said Mtonga.

Mtonga becomes the latest senior PP official to maneuver in the constituency following previous visits by other party heavyweights like Kachali, Uladi Mussa, Cassim Chilumpha, Sidik Mia, Ken Zikhale Ng’oma, Harry Chikoma Mkandawire, Steve Njobvuyalema and Pisho Nkhwazi among several others.

Peaceful atmosphere

The presidential advisor later told Nyasa Times in post-rally interview that his party is not taking chances. He therefore hailed the peaceful nature that has prevailed since the launching of the campaign period by the Malawi Electoral Commission (Mec).

He also refuted reports making rounds that the PP intends to rig the polls. “We are not under any pressure in fact pressure is on the opposition parties because they are not able to match our campaign strategy as such it is very unfair to say we want to rig the polls that is political fallacy.”

DPP’s Vuwa confident

Meanwhile, the DPP has also sounded confident of retaining the two key constituencies.

DPP’s director of logistics Symon Vuwa Kaunda, who also held a number of rallies in the constituency, told this paper that his party remains popular in the area despite descending to the opposition following the sudden demise death of its leader and founder Bingu wa Mutharika.

“We are winning make no mistake, of course our friends have an advantage of utilizing the power of incumbency but that is not bothering us because we still remain popular here in Mzimba,” said

Vuwa once served several portfolios most notably as Information and Sports and Youth Development Minister in previous DPP regime.

In Mzimba Central Constituency those contesting are Aram Wedson Mdala Beza PP, Owen Mkandawire of DPP, Bonfacio VVK Chidumayo Ngulube of New Rainbow Coalition (NARC), Enita Njolwa Aford while Mabvuto Joseph Kachali and Dennis Kandodo Mvula are running as independents.

On the other hand, the battle for Mzimba Southwest is being fiercely contested by DPP’s Lonard Chavula, Baxter Revival Manzunda of Aford, PP’s Raymond Chatima Nkhata and James Nthara who is standing as an independent.

Meanwhile, analysts have predicted that the outcome of the by-elections would sharpen the road to 2014 polls and some says that the ruling PP must scoop both seats in order to silence growing critics.

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