Confusion continues to rock Lilongwe South West Constituency MCP primaries with both candidates, Nancy Tembo and and Rhino Chiphiko, claiming that they are legitimate winners.
Contestant, Nancy Tembo has since petitioned MCP National Elections Directorate chairperson Dr Elias Chakwera asking his committtee demanding an explaination over reports that the party has declared Rhino Chiphiko as the winner and Tembo alleges that her opponent got lesser votes, claiming she polled more votes during the primaries that took place on September 15.
In an interview with Nyasa Times, Tembo claims there a lot of discrepancies ahead of the primaries.
“The venue of the primaries was changed three times. We were informed of these changes by Lilongwe Urban district chairperson Mr. Matchumbuza. Initially, they were to be held at the MCP headquarters but on the eve of the elections the venue changed to MCP Regional offices and finally on the same eve to Sanguya Messas Lodge in Area 36 starting at 8am.
She says she was unhappy with the compilation of delegates leading up to the primaries both from the area delegates and those from the whole constituency.
She says when she presented herself to the district committee on August 28, the district chairperson informed her that there were 54 area committees which had 486 voting delegates but two weeks later she was informed that there were 77 area committees of 693 voting delegates.
She said in her view the 23 additional area committees (207 additional voting delegates) were formed with complete disregard to the norms and practices of the MCP.
She says she was only presented with the list of Constituency Committee members of 90 delegates on the eve of the primary elections despite voicing out concerns.
“On the day of the primaries, I arrived at Sanguya Messas Lodge in Area 36 at 9am and found most of delegates and the aspirants had already arrived. Hon. Chiphiko and his team arrived around 11am and he was shortly followed by the primaries returning officers.
“Most active members of the primaries returning officers were Mr Chilembwe, who introduced himself as the Deputy National Director of Youth and Mr Liwonde who was introduced as the Regional Publicity Secretary for the Centre.
“Our contest began when Mr Chilembwe informed the assembly that he had a list of delegates from 77 areas, 90 members from constituency committee and 20 from the districts committee. Mr Chilembwe announced that the process would commence with the election of MPs as opposed to starting with the councillors which was contrary to the expectation of all aspirants.
“One of returning officers, Mr Liwonde, maintained this position, saying they could not divulge the reasons as they were confidential. This was not agreed on by the aspirants. Thereafter, the officers went out to where the delegates assembled to call out the electoral college. When they returned they did not inform the aspirants the actual number of delegates present. In fact, there was no documented guidance of the process and procedure of the elections.
“The aspirants once again raised an objection to the start of the MP race, reasoning that the MP race was more emotive and it would pose a challenge to stabilize the people to continue with the rest of the races. This was further highlighted by the chairlady of Lilongwe urban district Mrs Khumula, who pleaded with the presiding officer to start with the councillor primaries as opposed to the MP but to no avail.
“The returning officers, Mr Chilembwe and Mr Liwonde, took turns maintaining their position and their attitude was extremely rude, unnecessarily harsh bordering on intimidation. Mr Chilembwe threatened that if any of the councillor aspirants continued to insist to start with the councillor race, he would have no choice but disqualify them.
“As we left the building to commence the voting, I suggested to Mr. Liwonde that, for the sake of order, he should consider calling out the delegates area by area for the voting sequence to be orderly. He dismissed the suggestion, saying that would delay the process.”
She further said when the delegates lined up behind the candidates he request if her representative could act as her monitor during counting was rejected by Liwonde, claiming he alone had the authority to count.
She says Liwonde commenced to count and silently instead of shouting out for transparency’s sake as is normally done and undeterred, one of her appointed monitors tagged along to count as well and at the conclusion of Chiphiko’s count Liwonde reported he had 425 yet her monitor had counted 370.
Tembo says she accosted Liwonde why he rejected her monitors so they could verify the figures but he was adamant, saying the authority to count was his alone.
“We argued for a while as I insisted that he recounts Hon. Chiphiko’s line of voters as there was a discrepancy in the figures but he claimed that his figure alone was the correct and that there was no need for recount. A member of the district committee, a Mr Bwaila, intervened and reasoned with him of the necessity to have the monitors and to recount Hon. Chiphiko’s voters but he refused.
“He eventually compromised by pledging to recount after counting my line. He counted my line accompanied by Chiphiko’s monitor, my monitor, media and several other NGO representatives including Nice and MESN. The count at the end of my queue was 407 votes.”
She says when the figure of 407 was called Chiphiko’s voters started to disperse and hers started celebrating. The assumption was that both parties of the delegates had figured out that she was the winner “because even if all the legitimate voters totaling 803 had voted, with the figure 407, which was legitimately counted, I had emerged the winner.”
She says she later learnt that by the time the vote was counted Chilembwe, who was the principal returning officers, had already left the venue and when the results were announced presiding officer Abraham Liwonde announced that Chiphiko polled 458 votes against her 407 but actual votes for him were 370.
However, Liwonde alleges that Tembo brought over 50 bouncers who were intimidating returning officers during vote counting and this was verified by Kawale chiefs as well as some councillor aspirantsFollow and Subscribe Nyasa TV :