By Prince Kurupati
Malawians from all walks of life will on Tuesday 21 May head to the polls to cast their votes. The Tuesday 21 May election will be a tripartite election meaning that Malawians will choose three of their preferred candidates who will stand a chance to become the next president, Member of Parliament and local government councilor.
Elected officials as according to the Chairperson of Malawi’s Electoral Commission (MEC) “will serve the country in various capacities in the next five years.”
An Election that Ushered in a New Way of Doing Things
This upcoming tripartite election is not the first time that Malawians will head to the polls to choose the next president, Member of Parliament and local government councilor. However, this upcoming election is in its own right a unique process as its ushering in a new way of doing things. This as a result of the recently promulgated Political Parties Act of 2018.
The Political Parties Act of 2018 has two key provisions. First, the Act talks about more specifically it regulates funding of political parties. Political parties re obliged to reveal the names of the main donors and sponsors thereby bringing to light the preferred candidates of the top dogs. In the same vein this therefore, in some way shed more light (to the voters) of who stands to benefit most when certain candidates are elected. Essentially, if the sponsors are known for unscrupulous dealings, it inadvertently puts the candidate being backed in a suspicious and precarious state.
Secondly and also linked to the above, the Political Parties Act of 2018 outlaws the practice of giving handouts during election campaigns therefore this is the first time that political parties will head to the polls without having to rely on ‘vote buying’. Essentially, this therefore means that the political parties which will be competing in the 21 May 2018 are only selling substance policies and politics instead on relying on politics of the stomach.
Interesting Facts about the 21 May Tripartite Election
- 2014 Running Mates are Running Against Each Other
In the 2014 Tripartite Election, the current president Peter Mutharika was running with Saulos Chilima as his Vice President. The two won the election and subsequently Mutharika became the president whilst Chilima became the vice president. Fast forward to the 2019 Tripartite Election, Mutharika and Chilima are no longer running mates but they are now running against each other. Chilima quit the ruling party in 2018 and formed his own party United Transformation Movement (UTM) which is contesting in this upcoming election.
- Ten Presidential Candidates were Registered to Contest But Voters Will Only have a Choice of Eight
MEC, the election body in Malawi registered ten presidential candidates but voters will only have a choice of eight candidates to choose from on 21 May. This is as a result of the disqualification of Ras Chikomeni Chirwa and the withdrawal of former president Joyce Banda.
According to an opinion poll conducted by the Institute of Public Opinion and Research in August/September 2018, the incumbent is expected to win his third and final term in office with 27% of the vote. The former vice president Chilima and another aspiring candidate Lazarus Chakwera from the Malawi Congress Party are expected to come in second with each collecting 25% of the vote.
As Malawi uses the first past the post system, it means that if the above turns to reality, Peter Mutharika will be handed the mandate to lead Malawi for the next five years.