Malawi Congress Party (MCP) Lazarus Chakwera on Friday night faulted President Peter Mutharika for boycotting the first 2019 presidential debate, describing it as a lost opportunity for him to put the spotlight on his record in power.
He described Mutharika’s no-show as a testimony that his government lacked respect for tenants of democracy.
Mutharika said he will not take part in the elections debate as his Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) says it has reservations with the integrity of those behind the organisation of the same.
University of Malawi’s political analyst Ernest Thindwa said: The DPP missed an opportunity for them to demonstrate to Malawians what they have achieved. They have failed to give Malawians hope of what they have achieved so far during the time they have been ruling the country. They should have claimed what they have implemented.
“However, this will not shake the electorates because the debates will not influence the outcome of the elections.”
Political commentator Humphrey Mvula said it was a great opportunity lost for Mutharika because, as a sitting President, he should have been able to articulate issues to Malawians as he seeks re-election.
The live presidential debates, scheduled to host all the eight presidential aspirants, was divided in three phases with the first done on Friday, the second on April 2 and the final group on April 5 at Bingu International Convetion Centre (BICC).
The presidential debate is being organised by consortium of different entities including media houses, such as the taxpayer-funded Malawi Broadcasting Corporation (MBC) and privately-owned Zodiak Broadcasting Station (ZBS) and Times Media Group.
Other organisations include Misa Malawi, National Initiative for Civic Education (Nice), Centre for Multiparty Democracy (CMD), Democracy Works Foundation (DWF), Public Affairs Committee (PAC), National Democratic Institute (NDI) and Voluntary Service Organisation, Catholic Commission for Justice and Peace (CCJP), Malawi Law Society (MLS) and Civil Society Agriculture Network (Cisanet).
Analysts have argued that the reason the DPP has given for its presidential candidate Mutharika not participating in presidential debates is just a cover up.