PP bars Mijiga: Phoya’s chance to reclaim Blantyre Rural East primaries

Trouble continues rocking Blantyre Rural East primary elections for the ruling People’s Party (PP) with the latest being the disqualification of one of the frontline aspirants, Steven Mijiga.

People’s Party acting Secretary General, Paul Maulidi, confirmed disqualifying Mijiga from further participation in the race following his attempted rigging that also compelled the party to declare last Sunday’s re-run invalid.

Elections have been held twice in the constituency but the party is yet to come up with a clear winner as it struggles to deal with the irregularities.

Phoya: Given boost to reclaim his seat
Phoya: Given boost to reclaim his seat

The increased anomalies also forced the leading contender, who is the sitting Parliamentarian as well as Minister of Lands and Housing, Henry Phoya, to withdraw his candidature opening the race to Mijiga and Malawi Writers Union (MAWU) President, Mike Sambalikagwa Mvona.

At first it was announced that Phoya had triumphed over his two contenders with about 5300 votes seconded by Mijiga then Mvona.

However, the results were later reversed indicating that Phoya had rigged instead Mijiga emerged winner with 2 321 votes followed by Mvona with 1 748 and then Phoya’s 1497.

PP officials said about 3,000 votes for Phoya were declared null and void after it was discovered that they were “stuffed” in the polling boxes.

Maulidi said the party had barred Mijiga for contesting in the re-run following clear evidence that he was rigging Sunday’s re-run.

He said while the voting process was in progress, Mijiga brought trucks full of flour which he was donating to the electorates.

“He was using flour to rig the polls. He was telling the electorate to go and vote and therefore receive their bag of flour. So to us as a party that was tantamount rigging, which is not acceptable.

“We have clear evidence and the contestant admitted so we had no choice but to call off the re-run again,” explained Maulidi.

The acting secretary general said the party was meeting to decide the way forward for the controversial elections.

By default, the development means Mvona remains the sole contender for the constituency. Mvona has thrice (1999, 2004 and 2004) contested for the area but failed to win the hearts of the electorates.

However, Phoya was not available for his comment on whether he would rescind his decision and contest now that the party has barred his main challenger, Mijiga, from taking part.

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