Three key donors have expressed interest to fund a re-run of Malawi Congress Party (MCP) Lilongwe North West primary elections which whose first event was marred with irregularities.
Last weekend’s primaries was controversial in that contestant Nancy Tembo disputed the results that declared Rhino Chiphiko as the winner but Tembo cited some irregularities done by the returning officers led by Blessings Chilembwe, Deputy National Director of Youth and a Mr Liwonde, the Regional Publicity Secretary for the Centre.
Tembo then petitioned MCP National Elections Directorate chairperson Dr Elias Chakwera asking to investigate the irregularities she petitioned, alleging that her opponent got lesser votes and she polled more during the primaries that took place on September 15.
Speaking in defence of democracy and good governance, one well-wisher (who asked not to be mentioned) said his office is ready to meet the cost of organising a re-run in order to defend some free, fair and credible primaries.
He said his institution is monitoring everything happening in Lilongwe North West constituency, saying they “are interested in free and fair elections — the benchmark of a democracy”.
Another well-wisher (also name withheld) said MCP should be the last party to break democratic pillars by fixing candidates.
“In Malawi history, MCP is the oldest party and we hope that it should be the first to adhere to democratic pillars,” said donor.
Two days ago, Nancy Tembo outlined to Nyasa Times the discrepancies such as changing the venue of the primaries three times yet initially they were supposed 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.
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.
Tembo 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.
Tembo 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.
She claims that, Chilembwe, the returning officer unilaterally decided to commence with the election of MPs as opposed to starting with the councillors which was contrary to the expectation of all aspirants and that after doing an electoral call on the electoral college they did not inform the aspirants the actual number of delegates present or any documented guidance of the process and procedure of the elections.
Tembo also alleges that the returning officers, Chilembwe and Liwonde, had attitude problems and were extremely rude, with Chilembwe threatening that if any of the councillor aspirants continued to insist to start with the councillor race, he would have no choice but disqualify them.
She further said when the delegates lined up behind the candidates her request to have her representative to act as her monitor during counting was rejected by Liwonde, claiming he alone had the authority to count.
According to Tembo, 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.
The female politician said she eventually compromised by pledging to recount after counting her line, which he did accompanied by Chiphiko’s monitor, her monitor, media and several other NGO representatives including Nice and MESN in which they came up the figure of 407 votes.
She says when the figure of 407 was called out Chiphiko’s voters started to disperse and hers started celebrating which was the assumption by both parties 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.”
Tembo 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 security handlers who were intimidating returning officers during vote counting and this was verified by Kawale chiefs as well as some councillor aspirants.
Women rights advocate Habiba Osman took to the Twitter that while women are the preferred candidates to be elected into the positions, men prefer fellow men.
Meanwhile, political commentator, Ernest Thindwa of the University of Malawi has warned MCP against fixing the candidates, saying the party risks having more independent candidates who shall be frustrated by the fixing the candidates.
Thindwa urged the party leadership to give powers to the people to decide the person whom they want than the party deciding the person they prefer.Follow and Subscribe Nyasa TV :