Malawi’s second presidential debate will be held Tuesday Aril 29 at Bingu International Conference Center in the capital Lilongwe with number of panellist trimmed.
The debates to be broadcast live on TV, radio and internet, will combine Chichewa and English and will be moderated by a well-respected, knowledgeable Malawian with a neutral stand and very conversant with Malawian politics.
National Media Institute for Southern Africa (Namisa) which is chairing the multi-stakeholders taskforce on first-ever presidential debates has said Malawians will see a much improved debate from the first debate.
Namisa chairperson Anthony Kasunda said they have trimmed the panellist to only presidential candidates whose parties are fielding at least 20 parliamentarians.
The new format means that only six parties will be eligible to participate in the remaining debates as Umodzi Party, United Independence Party, Chipani Cha Pfuko (CCP), Petra are fielding less than the required amount of parliamentary candidates in the elections.
Panellists will include New Labour Party (NLP), Friday Jumbe, Atupele Muluzi of UDF, Lazarous Chakwera (MCP), Peter Mutharika (DPP), Mark Katsonga (PPM) and James Nyondo of Nasaf.
President Joyce Banda, has decided to ignore the three presidential debates. She told the nation in a statement released by the ruling People’s Party (PP) secretary general, Paul Maulidi, that “she could not attend those debates. This is a campaign period and she is busy reaching out to the people.”
The debates have been organised to offer Malawians a chance to evaluate candidates so they could vote along policy or ideological lines and alsi inspire issues based elections.
Funding for the debates has been provided by the Open Society Initiative for Southern Africa (OSISA) with the National Democratic Institute providing technical assistance made possible by support from UKAID.
Malawians vote in presidential, parliamentary and local elections on May 20 and opinion polls which have been carried so far tips President Banda to win.