Bitter pill for Tonse Alliance as Nkhata Bay Central reject Ralph Mhone again in court-sanctioned by-election

The people of Nkhata Bay constituency have prescribed a “bitter pill” for the Tonse Alliance government through the court-sanctioned June 29, 2021, by-election.

Beaten and embarrassed by Vuwa Kaunda

Symon Vuwa Kaunda failed to convince the African Court on Human and Peoples’ Rights on the nullification of his 2019 victory but the outcome did not deter the voters from sticking by their man and the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP). He successfully convinced his constituents that he is best man to represent them and not the Tonse Alliance-backed archenemy Ralph Mhone.

Mhone’s loss is not only a great humiliation to the nine-strong consortium of political parties, but also a vote of no confidence for the Tonse Alliance-led administration where people have adopted “Pa ground sipali bwino” slogan as a way of expressing their dissatisfaction with the state of affairs.

It is particularly interesting to note that the by-election took place a day after the Tonse clocked a year in office having triumphed in a court-ordered Fresh Presidential Election (FPE) on June 23, 2020.

Triumphant Vuwa Kaunda casting a vote for himself.

In a historic court-ordered FPE, Malawians voted out Professor Arthur Peter Mutharika (APM as he is popularly known among his followers) and his DPP largely due to APM’s indecisiveness and procrastinating of matters of national importance.

It would appear, too, that Malawians were fed up with corruption, nepotism, executive arrogance, governance decay, human rights abuses, economic stagnation and deteriorating standards in service delivery, especially in the areas of health, education, water and sanitation, which characterized the APM regime.

Hence, the triumph of the Tonse in FPE offered a huge relief to the citizenry. The alliance rode on the back of a promise of a more open, transparent and accountable government that respects the rule of law.

They also promised household and national food security, and the push for public sector reforms.

However, the citizenry seems to be dissatisfied with the pace at which the Tonse is delivering on promises that matter most to the ordinary person.

In its analysis of the first year of the Tonse, which was released fours days before the Tuesday by-election, the Human Rights Defenders Coalition (HRDC) observed that the hope that Malawians is fast turning into despair as the incumbent administration seems to have not plan in sight.

HRDC says the administration has failed to live up to the expectations of Malawians with visible signs of economic misdirection, ever rising unemployment and the cost of essential goods resulting into inflation that has left Malawians poorer than they were a year ago.

Worse still, the Tonse does not seem to have a recovery plan in place to alleviate the dire poverty in our midst, said the coalition.

“While we commend the Tonse Alliance administration’s efforts above, it has become clear that the new government has failed to manage the economy, is soft on fraud and corruption and remains largely indecisive. One year into the administration, the economy is spiraling out of control, with prices of essential commodities rising by the day, thereby hitting poor Malawians hardest. Hereunder, we highlight the major areas that the Tonse Government must work on if it is to retain its legitimacy to govern,” reads the analysis in part.

The coalition further stated that all major fundamentals show that 12 months after the revolution, the economic situation—at both macro and micro levels—has deteriorated because the economy has been mismanaged.

Tonse  has also failed to provide evidence that it has created the one million jobs it promised Malawians.

And as HRDC analyzes, the disbursement of loans to women and youths and other micro-entrepreneurs under the National Economic Empowerment Fund (NEEF) remains murky as political interference rears its ugly head once again and funding to the initiative only goes in drips, leaving many young men and women disappointed.

In his early major speeches, President Dr. Lazarus Chakwera vowed to disinfect Malawi to remove the stench of corruption and fraud, saying the evil twins are largely responsible for Malawi’s retarded development.

But HRDC feels the gulf between the rhetoric on that euphoric day and the reality of the levels of suspected corruption is like day and night.

“To this day, there is rampant suspected corruption, abuse of public resources as well as gapping loopholes in public financial systems that have resulted in the loss of Billions of public funds. For instance, the Tonse Administration has witnessed over one large-scale heist in which a large chunk of the K6.2 billion that was allocated to the fight against Covid-19 was allegedly abused with little action taken against most of those involved. The Administration has failed to audit the K17.2 billion of taxpayers’ money and more than K300 billion in Covid-19 donor aid despite promising to do so,” stated the coalition.

Social media enthusiast Thandie Wa Pulimuheya seems to agree with HRDC on this, writing: “Governments lose because those steering them begin to think they are more important than those who put them there, or they get obsessed with themselves. At the heart of almost every loss is a growing detachment from reality and increasing arrogance,” she says.

But social and political commentator Makhumbo Munthali holds a different opinion attributing Kaunda’s triumph to his personality.

“The question of DPP being popular and Tonse Alliance losing ground does not arise here. The outcome of the by-election is simply a reflection of the trust people have in Vuwa Kaunda and less trust they have for Mhone. However, I should emphasize that the Mhone’s loss is a big blow to the Tonse Alliance partners, which gave all their support to one candidate,” he said.

Munthali cautions Tonse as some of its supporters seem to have voted for the DPP candidate this time as evidenced by the wide margin in the votes the two scooped.

As the Malawi Electoral Commission (MEC) awaits to announce the official results, Malawians have taken to social media, trying to probe into the factors that might have led to the loss of the Tonse backed candidate.

In 2019, Vuwa Kaunda scooped 6, 418 against Mhone’s 6, 412. In the by-election, the DPP candidate has amassed 5, 439 while the Tonse Alliance torchbearer got 5, 223.

This shows that Kaunda’s votes have decreased by 979 while Mhone’s votes have decreased by 1,189.

Basically, this means that 5, 439 DPP followers in Nkhata Bay Central remained faithful to the party and vigilant to their candidate’s candidacy as no extra vote was obtained.

On the other hand, only 5, 223 PP followers remained resolute for their candidate’s chance while about 1, 189 supporters switched or abstained.

According to 2019 polls in Nkhata Bay Central, the only parties in the alliance, which participated and secured some votes are UTM and MCP. The rest of the parties did not show any presence.

Going by the said 2019 results, it means UTM has failed to convince its 626 voters, which its 2019 candidate Justin Prince Banda polled then, MCP has failed to convince its 290 voters, which its 2019 candidate Jolly Deraley Nyimba polled then.

Writing on one of the fora, a former college mate of Mhone, who opted for anonymity, blames the loss on Mhone himself, saying he is not ‘a man of the people on the ground’ unlike Vuwa who interacts with everyone in the constituency.

“Vuwa is interacts and associates with of all nook and cranny. He connects well with people on the grassroots. He assists where there is need to assists. He celebrates with those celebrating. He fishes who are fishing etc. In short, he is sort of a man whom Chinua Achebe would call ‘Man of the People’. On the other hand, our lawyer politician Ralph Mhone is a darling of mainly the elite of the society. He is far away from the people. He needs to improve in this respect if he is to win in the next election. Am speaking as a son of Nkhata Bay Central soil though born elsewhere,” he said.

Another one wrote: “The people have spoken. I have known Ralph Mhone since my college days in the 70/80’s. He is a very quiet person, has never been a people’s person. Actually, in when I went to college, I thought he was a fellow freshman, when he was already in second year law. Maybe he is not a politician by popularity, but he is a very capable person. Do you need to be a popular loudmouth to become an MP? Probably!”

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1 year ago

Congrats Vuwa!

1 year ago

Vuwa Kaunda is an extrovert, he is canny and capable of adapting easily,making it worse for Mr Mhone, Vuwa is like a hustler,Most Malawians are hustlers and it was much easier for Nkhatabay Central relating itself to Vuwa than Mhone a corporate professional .People trust the most those like themselves.

1 year ago

it doesnt mean kuti anthu akufuna DPP, ku Nkhatabayko amamukonda Vuwayo kkk

1 year ago

What is the meaning of this? Vuwa from outside Government against Ralph from inside.

Ndafera Nkhande
Ndafera Nkhande
1 year ago

Now if people of Nkhata Bay central have trust i Kaunda are we sure the Tonse alliance is unshaken in other areas? Come on things are not adding up on the ground and there is need for Tonse to jack up as people are now fed up with nepotism and hiring of redundant party cronies.This is a wake up call that PP is not a party to trust due to the cash gate cases pending in court.

1 year ago

You are cheating.He is a party man not indipendent.

1 year ago

This by-election proves that people in the north vote on personalities not parties.

1 year ago

Politics demands talking, if not find something to do.

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