Malawi, Lilongwe – After being booted out of power in 1994, during the country’s first multi-party democratic elections, Malawi’s main opposition Malawi Congress Party (MCP) seeks to retain power. The MCP became second with 35 percent of the total vote cast during last year’s annulled polls. The party heavily relies on its stronghold (the central region of the country) which has provided unwavering support during the moments it has out of power.
The party which ruled Malawi under first president Hastings Kamuzu Banda was accused of ruling the country with an iron fist, something it’s opponents have been propagating during the two decades it has been out of power. Unlike in neighboring Zambia where it’s the founding party the United National Independence Party (UNIP), has had a poor showing in elections since it’s ouster the MCP has always come second in elections held in 1999,2004,2009,2014 and the those nullified last year.
A survey by Afro barometer a credible research network with headquarters in Accra, Ghana predicted a tight contest between the Mcp and the Democratic Progressive Party DPP of current president Peter Mutharika.
Recently Malawi has been using the first past the post system of electing a president. But both the Supreme court and the Constitutional court ordered that fresh elections adopt the 50+1 which ensures a leader is elected by an absolute majority.
This has enabled the MCP to partner the United Transformation Movement (UTM) of Vice president Saulos Chilima in an alliance of nine political parties. Chilima got twenty percent of votes cast in the nullified polls. This commentators think may boost the chances of the Mcp whose leader Lazarus Chakwera will be the torchbearer.
Chilima has backed Chakwera as a clean candidate. “He has never been president, so the atrocious past committed by the old Mcp don’t involve him,” he told a gathering at a political rally in the commercial capital Blantyre.
However, the ruling party through the state-owned broadcaster, Malawi Broadcasting Corporation (MBC) has used the atrocities committed during the one-party era as a tool to distract voters from giving the MCP a comeback into government.
Malawi’s voting pattern has always been based on regional and tribal lines. The ruling DPP and the former ruling United Democratic Front (UDF) have controlled most southern and southeastern districts of the country.
The Mcp has controlled the central region districts. It’s alliance partner the UTM grabbed most votes in the northern region, during last year’s nullified polls. Malawi got its independence from Britain in 1964 under Hastings Kamuzu Banda and the Malawi Congress Party. In 1994 Dr. Banda a British and American trained physician was removed through the ballot after Malawians had voted for multiparty democratic government a year earlier.
Bakili Muluzi who was once Secretary General of Banda’s party became president after his party the United Democratic Front (UDF). Became the first ruling party in the new dispensation. His son Atupele is now running mate to President Peter Mutharika in the 23rd June slated polls. Mutharika’s older brother Bingu was handpicked by Bakili Muluzi to be his successor in the UDF and won the polls in 2004. He later ditched the party to form the DPP. A win for the Peter Mutharika and Atupele Muluzi pair will see four family members exchanging the presidency within 26 years.
On the other hand, a comeback for the Malawi Congress Party will see the return of one of southern Africa’s political parties which fought liberation from colonial rule.