Tripartite elections with Presidential race a cliffhanger
Malawi will be holding its first tripartite election today, with votes for a President, National Assembly and local councils.
The Malawi Electoral Commission (MEP) made a late revision to the final tally of eligible voters to 7,470,806 and they will be voting at 4,445 polling stations between 6 a.m. and 6 p.m. local time.
The incumbent President Joyce Banda is expected to find herself in a tight race between three others of the twelve candidates in total standing for the presidential election today. The Cashgate scandal has rocked the country and dented Mrs Banda’s reputation even though she reacted swiftly to the revelation that anything up to $100 million had been siphoned from government funds.
The three other credible candidates in the race are Lazarus Chakwera of the Malawi Congress Party (MCP), Atupele Muluzi of the United Democratic Front (UDF) and Peter Mutharika of the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP).
Peter Mutharika, the brother of the late President Bingu wa Mutharika who was replaced by Joyce Banda after his death in 2012, is the most likely person to unseat Joyce Banda. An Afrobarometer poll conducted in early April suggested that 27% supported Mutharika, 21% supported Chakwera and 19% supported Joyce Banda.
Another poll in April for the Nyasa Times gave Banda 30%, Chakwera 29%, Muluzi 22% and Mutharika 19%. The two polls highlight the lack of consistency in the polling and the volatile nature of the election.
The election is most likely to be decided between Banda and Mutharika and whoever gets the most votes today is the winner, there is no second round runoff.
The full list of presidential candidates is as follows:
Joyce Banda; People’s Party (PP)
Lazarus Chakwera; Malawi Congress Party (MCP)
Kamuzu Chibambo; People’s Transformation Party (Petra)
John Chisi; Umodzi Party (UP)
Friday Jumbe; Labour Party (LP)
Davis Katsonga; Chipani cha Pfuko (CCP)
Mark Katsonga; Progressive Party Movement (PPM)
Atupele Muluzi; United Democratic Front (UDF)
Peter Mutharika; Democratic Progressive Party (DPP)
George Nnesa; Tisinthe Alliance (TA)
James Nyondo; National Salvation Front (NASAF)
Hellen Singh; United Independent Party (UIP)
In the legislative elections there are 193 seats in the National Assembly with 17 parties putting up candidates. No political party is expected to win a majority in parliament with four parties, the PP, DPP, MCP, and the UDF likely to take most of the seats.
For the first time since 2000 there will be local government elections with 2,398 candidates standing for 462 local council seats.