Two key partners in the nine political-party Tonse Alliance administration—Malawi Congress Party (MCP) and UTM Party—have spoken on violence that marred their by-elections campaign, especially in Karonga District.
Some followers and senior members of the two parties have been linked to some cases of violence in the by-elections campaign.
During the hotly contested Karonga Central by-election, the violence was so bad that Malawi Electoral Commission (MEC) chairperson Chifundo Kachale threatened to cancel the poll if the parties did not ease the tension.
In the run-up to the March 30 by-election in Karonga North West, the two parties were at it again.
In an interview yesterday, MCP spokesperson the Reverend Maurice Munthali said his party will promote oneness among Malawians to end cases of political violence in the country.
He expressed worry over the violence and said Malawians do not fully understand what coexistence democracy and multiparty demands mean.
Munthali said MCP will promote civic education to ensure that Malawians fully embrace democracy and coexistence.
He said: “Our president Dr Lazarus Chakwera is a strong believer and he is hungry to bring sanity to Malawi. We need to support him and ensure that we are united as a nation.”
On her part, UTM Party secretary general Patricia Kaliati said she was not the right person to comment on the violence that takes place whenever MCP and UTM are competing in elections because she was not the one inciting violence.
On whether the two alliance partners have attempted to discuss how best they can put an end to the conflicts that take place, she said the issue can best be handled by the leadership of the parties.
Ironically, the two parties’ leaders President Lazarus Chakwera and Vice-President Saulos Chilima have remained mum on the violence.
In his reaction yesterday, political analyst George Phiri said the violence is a result of lack of understanding of what democracy is all about.
He called on the two parties to orient their followers on how they are to behave in by-election.
Phiri said: “The problem is that the alliance focused on the presidential election. When it is about the presidential election, the partners feel they are one, but when it is about parliamentary elections, you see them in a conflict.
“So, there is need to guide the followers on how to conduct themselves when there is a by-election.”
In a related development, MEC has dismissed an MCP petition to have the winner of Karonga North West Constituency Felix Katwafu Kayira (UTM Party) disqualified for irregularities.
MCP candidate Daniel Chitonya complained to MEC that there were incidents of violence in the constituency irregularities in counting of votes in some centres which had the potential to affect the outcome of the election.
But Kachale, a judge of the High Court of Malawi, dismissed the complaint. He said the commission has guided Chitonya on how the alleged criminal offences should be dealt with.
On the request for recount, he said Chitonya did not provide evidence to warrant a recount of the votes.
Kachale declared the by-election in Karonga North West as credible, adding that it met international best practices. He said the election was conducted in free and fair environment.
MEC has also officially declared MCP candidate in Lilongwe Msinja South Francis Belekanyama as the winner.
The electoral body also declared independent candidate Bizwick Million winner of Zomba Changalume Constituency, Enock Chizuzu (MCP) winner in Nsanje North Constituency Kafandikhale Mandevana (MCP) winner in Nsanje Central Constituency.
Other winners were Arnold Kadzanja (MCP) in Ntchisi North and Rodrick Khumbanyiwa (United Democratic Front) in Chikwawa East.
UTM and MCP came into partnership ahead of the court-sanctioned fresh presidential election held on June 23