The final presidential debate Friday evening is expected to have a new moderator in Reverend Patrick Semphere who will replace Grace Malera as six out of eight candidates appearing on the ballot paper will tussle in the battle of minds.
Human rights lawyer Malera, a former executice secretary of Malawi Human Rights Commission, has been the host of two presidential debates but organisers say 2014 presidential debates moderator, Reverend Semphere, returns for the final set.
Governance expert and political commentator Makhumbo Munthali said his expectation is that the aspirants will ably address the “how” question better in as far as addressing the issues of national concern.
“This has been lacking in the previous debates. It will also be critical to see these Presidential aspirants aligning their positions to the existing Malawi Growth and Development Strategy, African Union Agenda 2063 and the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs),” he said.
Munthali said in terms of focus, it will be important that the presidential candidates will need to “interogate each other’s positions “ on particular issues as articulated in each other’s respective manifestoes while at the same time “remain focused” on articulating their electoral pledges.
“ At the end of the day what Malawians want to see is which party is having better policy options on particular issues,” he said.
Many are prediticing that some candidates will be in for verbal punch-up but another governance and political commentator Henry Chingaipe has advised the presidential candidates to cut down on arrogance in any form because people are looking for a humble, but firm and assertive leader.
He also asked them to remember their audience is not the moderator, but the voter who will not be in the room as such their language, pitch, content should target them.
The final presidential debate will have Malawi Congress Party (MCP) candidate Lazarus Chakwera, UTM Party’s Saulos Chilima, United Democratic Front’s (UDF) Atupele Muluzi, Professor John Chisi of Umodzi Party, Peter Kuwani of Mbakuwaku Movement for Development (MMD) and Reverend Kaliya, an independent candidate.
Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) candidate Peter Mutharika continues to boycott the debates while Tikonze People’s Movement aspirant Cassim Chilumpha sent an apology.