Bingu ‘pleads’ with Rumphi Central ahead of polls

President Bingu wa Mutharika on Saturday held hurried meetings during a whistle stop tour in Rumphi Central Constituency, there to drum up support for his government Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) candidate Norman Nyirenda.

At Mphompha Primary School Ground, where he made his first stop-over, Mutharika claimed he is the only one amongst all the presidents Malawi has had since independence “with the northern region at heart”.

He also stopped at Mzokoto, Phwezi, Ng’onga and Chozoli during the tour.

However, a political analyst at Chancellor College of the University of Malawi described Mutharika’s sentiments as a “last-ditch attempt to reclaim lost glory”,  saying northerners were very disappointed with Mutharika and his DPP administration over his conduct against the people of the north.

Mutharika: I love northern region at heart

“The people of the north gave Mutharika and the DPP unparalleled support at the 2009 national polls where the party grabbed virtually all parliamentary seats. Immediately after that overwhelming vote, the president, against all wisdom, started pursuing policies that were hostile to northerners such as the quota system in the selection of students to institutions of higher learning; disparaging remarks against certain individuals from the north; and the damning arrest and incarceration of the Livingstonia Synod General Secretary Reverend Levi Nyondo,” noted the analyst, declining to be identified.

He said it was “highly” improbable that northerners, particularly those from Rumphi, could forget all these acts and others and vote for DPP’s Nyirenda, particularly that when the late Professor Moses Chirambo, who was MP for the area, died, Mutharika “never bothered” to attend his funeral.

The analyst said what is more serious is that Professor Chirambo, died a few days after Mutharika unceremoniously sacked him as health minister.

Speaking at the first stop-over, the president people in the constituency should not waste time to vote for “small parties, which only emerge during elections”. He said if people voted for an opposition MP, there would be no development in Rumphi Central because it is only the DPP MP who would be closer to the “development coffers”.

He said he had done a tremendous job for the whole northern region since he ascended to power in 2004, including the construction of the Karonga—Chitipa road and that his government would be fully implementing the rehabilitation of Bolero—Nyika—Chitipa road to among other things encourage visitors to Nyika National Park “to see game”.

In a rare mood, president Mutharika called on peace among Malawians.

Speaking earlier, DPP first vice president and campaign team leader for the by-elections, Goodall Gondwe claimed that the constituents had assured his team that Nyirenda is their favourite parliamentary candidate, to the amusement of an uncharacteristically tiny crowd at a presidential function.

In his remarks, Nyirenda thanked Mutharika for “accepting me to be part of the DPP” family and consequently accepting him as DPP candidate in the area.

The Rumphi Central race has competitors in the names of McDowell Steven Aaron Chidumba Mkandawire of the newly-registered People’s Party (PP) whose leader is state vice Joyce Banda, Enoch Chihana of Alliance for Democracy (AFORD), Peter Chihana of the People’s Development Movement (PDM) and DPP’s Nyirenda.

Analysts on the ground say PP’s Mkandawire and PDM’s Chihana are front-runners.

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