Malawi presidential debates draw strong reactions

Barely a few days after the final Presidential Debate took place in Blantyre some quarters of society have come forward to criticize the debates in general while others are of the view that such debates should continue after May 20.

Different sectors of the society have expressed both satisfaction and discontent while others hold the view that they need to continue after the polls to hold leaders accountable.

In an interview  PPM Presidential Candidate Mark Katsonga Phiri said that to him the debates are a good platform for authorities to discuss and debate issues of national importance hence his view that such debates should continue after May 20.debae

“If I am a President I would welcome that and I prefer this idea as long as the President in ruling accepts the challenge to be bombarded by questions face to face with the Presidents of Opposition Parties, it can really improve a lot of things,” Katsonga said.

However, Atupele Muluzi, UDF Presidential candidate is against the idea of the Presidential debate continuation after 20 May saying it is a different thing all together because these are powers of parliament.

“Our Constitution guarantees that the ruling President should be given question time in parliament so that the opposition should offer criticism wherever possible,” Muluzi said.

Paramount Chief Kyungu of Karonga conquered with Muluzi saying presidential debates after elections would be a waste of time and would not solve anything.

“To me the just ended Presidential debates were useless and what some parties are saying that this should continue after May 20 is a nonstarter and unnecessary unless the President in government and opposition party leaders have a good platform and interact properly before going to the public for a debate,’’ said Kyungu.

Commenting on the issue University of Malawi (UNIMA), political analyst Dr Henry Chingaipe said he is not sure of the practicality of the idea that some Malawians want Presidential debates to continue after elections.

“I would rather propose question time for the president in parliament,” Chingaipe said.

The Chairperson of the taskforce of the just ended Presidential Debates, Anthony Kasunda said that the idea that some people are raising regarding the continuation of presidential debates after tripartite elections is a good one but has to be screened.

“It would be good to continue with the debates especially in the run up to 2019 elections; my only proposal would be that we have to start the debate on the reform of the electoral law so that we can make a provision of these presidential debates in the law.

“So that any person participating in the presidential elections should be compelled or mandated by this law to participate, the law should also stipulate the eligibility for the participation,” Kasunda said.

On the issue of the just ended Presidential Debates,  Kasunda said as a taskforce they are pleased that they managed to successfully organise three debates saying It was not any easy task but thanks the candidates that humbled themselves to participate.

“We are very confident that the debates were successful and we managed to achieve the objectives, one of the objectives was to provide a platform for interaction between the presidential candidates and the electorate, a lot of issues came up and Malawians will make an informed decision on May 20,” said Kasunda.

Kasunda also advised Malawians that they should support initiatives such as the debates in order to embrace the culture of coming together to debate issues affecting the country.

The Presidential Debates which were the first of its kind in the history of Malawi were broadcast live on MBC TV, Times TV and other radio stations like Zodiak Broadcasting Station (ZBS).

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