Ansah declares MCP by-election winner, decries parties' absence, violence

Ansah

Malawi Electoral Commission (MEC) has officially declared Descent Msatero Chipangula of Malawi Congress Party (MCP) winner in the Matenje ward by-election in Kasungu.

Matenje ward had five candidates with a total of 15,760 registered voters. A total of 3,089 voters turned up for polling representing 19.60 percent voter turnout.

Official statistics provided by MEC shows there were 38 null and void votes representing 1.23 percent.

The results of the voting are as follows: Descent Msatero Chipangula, Malawi Congress Party (MCP) 1,489 votes, Nelson Maseko, Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) 1,203 votes, Chrifford Joseph Mbewe, Independent, 185 votes, Shadreck Mvula, Independent 55 votes, Vincent Phiri Mbakuwaku Movement for Development (MMD) 119 votes.

MEC Chairperson Jane Ansah when delivering the results said the Commission was appalled by the participation of political parties as most of them shunned the by-election, the conducted after the May 21, 2019 tripartite elections.

“There are over 50 registered political parties and only three political parties participated. It is the hope of the Commission that the Political Party’s Act will be in full force and regulate idle parties,” Ansah said at Mount Soche in Blantyre.

Under Section 16 (1)(e) of the Act, the Registrar of Political Parties has powers to deregister a political party on his own motion if he or she is satisfied that the party has ceased to exist.

She said political parties exist to contest in elections, get into positions and influence policies saying: “If political parties are not contesting even in by-elections which elections are they going to contest? We echo the calls for full enforcement of the Political Parties (Registration and Regulation) Bill to address issues like this one.”

The MEC chairperson also deplored women participation noting that despite the Commission always offering a 50 percent discount to women candidates as one way of encouraging them to stand not one contended out of the five candidates that run.

“By-elections offer an opportunity to put women in power and somehow alter the statistics. The Commission did not hear any such campaigns which are common during general elections. The campaigners including the 50-50 programme should know that women participating in by-elections equally need their support as those participating in general elections. Efforts to support women in elections should embrace the electoral cycle philosophy.”

“Political parties should also move from rhetoric to action regarding women empowerment. Women candidates don’t just appear from nowhere. There is need to create an environment which will nurture them. Parties should come up with policies and practices that will support women candidates beyond just paying nomination fees for them,” she said.

Ansah on violence purported in Lilongwe where it has not conducted the by-election condemned it in the strongest terms.

The violence erupted in the course of the campaign period and MEC tried to quell the situation through the Multiparty Liaison Committee (MPLC) but it never worked.

"The situation was getting worse, more cases continued to occur.  The violence was also targeted at candidates, supporters and the Commission. Subsequently, the Commission met on 29th October, 2019 in Lilongwe to review the situation and a resolution was made to postpone the by-election activities in the Constituency. This was to save lives and property in the constituency and also to give room for addressing all matters causing the violence," she said. 

Ansah emphasised the Commission is eager to hold the by-election in Lilongwe South once the situation normalises so the onus is on all political and traditional leaders to join hands with the MEC to achieve this.

“Once the situation improves, the Commission will announce a new date for the polling. When we announce the date, the process will start from where we stopped. The ballot papers have already been printed and are under MEC’s custody,” she said.