DPP ‘rigging’ in Rumphi central by-elections

The governing Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) of president Bingu wa Mutharika continues to campaign in various ways while voting is in the process on Tuesday  in the Rumphi Central constituency by-elections in defiance of the electoral law, Nyasa Times can reveal.

According to the electoral law, campaign is supposed to stop 48-hours before polling hence September 4, 2011 as the polls were scheduled for Tuesday, September 6, 2011

The Rumphi central constituency fell vacant following the death of former Parliamentarian Professor Moses Chirambo last year. DPP candidate for the by elections is Norman Nyirenda.

He faces stiff competition from the widely-perceived front-runner among constituents, McDowell Steven Aaron Chidumba Mkandawire of the newly-registered People’s Party (PP) and Peter Chihana of the People’s Development Movement (PDM). Another contestant is Enoch Chihana of Alliance for Democracy (AFORD).

Kaliati: Mind your business

Voting stations opened at 6 AM on Tuesday, September 6, 2011 and voting will officially close at 6 PM.

Using coercive antics that one political scientist at Chancellor College recently described as a “last-ditch attempt to reclaim lost glory”, several senior DPP members, led by the party’s national director of youth and former deputy agriculture minister Frank Tumpale Mwenifumbo and the national director of women and former information minister, Patricia Kaliati are dishing out K500s to voters at various polling stations while the police, election monitors and other electoral officers look on in disbelief.

When confronted by Nyasa Times at Phwezi, one of the strategic polling stations, why she was dishing out cash on the actual polling day when the law forbids campaign 48 hours before polling, Kaliati, in her renowned defiant mood, said she would not let DPP election monitors go “hungry during this very important exercise”.

When put to her that the K500 recipients were not DPP monitors but actually voters as they did not have any official tag to show that they were election monitors, Kaliati yelled “mind your business, man”.

Close monitoring by Nyasa Times at polling stations at Ng’onga and Chozoli revealed that Mwenifumbo, was also clandestinely giving K500s and K1, 000s to voters, using three agents.

Mwenifumbo, clad in a dark-blue suit, light-blue shirt and a blue neck-tie with sunglasses covering his face, stood apparently absent-minded behind his four-wheel drive car without registration numbers, and routinely gave the cash to the unidentified agents.

Meanwhile, it has been learnt that president Mutharika has ‘honoured’ T/A Mwankhunikira of the area with a brand-new four-wheel double-cabin Isuzu vehicle “for his unwavering support for the DPP administration and the DPP candidate in the by-elections”.

A source revealed that the vehicle, which has already been dispatched to the traditional leader, is fitted with public address system and that it is currently, as voting continues, plying in the remotest areas with an identified voice calling on people to vote for the DPP candidate, Nyirenda.

“This is outright rigging, it’s unacceptable; I can’t believe this is happening,” one of the most senior United Democratic Front (UDF) officials told Nyasa Times in a telephone interview from Malawi’s commercial capital, Blantyre. The UDF, the third largest political party in parliament, is not taking part in the by-elections.

The chairperson of the Malawi Electoral Commission (MEC) Justice Anastasia Msosa said Monday as far as her commission was concerned all preparations for the polls had been concluded and that so far she had not received any ‘official’ complaints from any of the contesting parties.

It is not clear whether the unfolding conduct by Kaliati, Mwenifumbo and other unidentified DPP officials in the Rumphi central by-elections have been officially reported to the elections body.

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