Former president Joyce Banda says opposition parties should select a joint candidate in this year’s presidential election to unseat President Peter Mutharika and his Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) and that she would be ready to “turn the page” and let anyone lead.
If this happens, that alliance could pose the most credible challenge to President Mutharika, the flag bearer of the ruling DPP hat is in a loose alliance with the United Democratic Front (UDF) led by Minister of Health, Atupele Muluzi.
Banda, who served as Malawi’s first female president from 2012 to 2014, has said she is prepared not to run and back the electoral alliance for Malawi to “have a good leader who is able to decisively deal with various problems the country if facing.”
Said Banda in quotes reported by The Nation newspaper on Monday: “If it was possible, a coalition should be the best option as has been the case in many countries. I, personally, don’t mind anybody leading that alliance.”
Banda ‘s People’s Party (PP) can make a strong showing in the northern and eastern regions, while Malawi Congress Party (MCP) has support in central region stronghold and now southern Lower .
New party UTM of Vice-president Saulos Chilima has never been politically tested despite having high profile personalities in his party.
On the other hand, the Malawi Forum for Unity and Development (MAFUNDE), Malawi Democratic Party (MDP), the Alliance for Democrcay and Development (ADD) and the Peoples Transformation Party (PETRA), are all tiny and are very unlikely to win parliamentary seats.
In an extended coverage, The Nation editorial comment titled ‘political coalitions must be for Malawi’s good’ pointed out that Banda’s pronouncement are not too surprising.
“Any right-thinking politician will see that votes in the next election are likely to be fragmented with no real majority winner,” reads the comment in part.
The paper cited the recent survey conducted by the Zomba-based Institute of Public Opinion and Research (Ipor) between August and September 2018 which indicated DPP is poised to take 33 percent of the votes, followed by MCP with 31 percent and UTM Party with 28 percent and PP trailing a distant six percent.
“It therefore makes sense that opposition parties aiming to unseat the current government opt for an alliance,” said the paper.
It cautioned that parties should race against time and urged the parties to have a clear agenda based on shared values.
“We hope that whatever coalition may emerge this time around, whether on the opposition or governing side, they will be more about policy choices than just winning an election,” advised the paper.
It said emphasis should be on working towards rebuilding the nation than disintegrating it further.
Reads the comment in conclusion: “It is interesting that almost each leader that has governed Malawi has said Malawi has valuable resources that can take it out of the abyss of poverty to prosperity. This is what coalitions should aim for to offer Malawians a new better lease of life.”
Meanwhile, University of Malawi’s Chancellor College-based political commentator Ernest Thindwa has observed that opposition parties “stand better to benefit a lot from an electoral coalition.”
But he noted that chances of an electoral alliance were “unlikely” because each one of them thinks that they can win on their own.
Social commentator Stanley Onjezani Kenani posted on Facebook: “I think the former president, Mrs Joyce Banda, is the only voice of reason in a crowded opposition field. She says she is open to the idea of a coalition. She does not mind who leads it. The truth is, the murderous DPP can only be defeated if the opposition rallies behind one candidate. But egos the size of Kilimanjaro will, once again, hand victory to thieves.”
Malawi, one of the world’s poorest and most aid-dependent countries, will hold presidential, parliamentary and local council elections on May 21.Follow and Subscribe Nyasa TV :