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By-elections divide Malawi’s Tonse Alliance: Will they reach Canaan together?

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Will they reach Canaan together?

BLANTYRE-(MaraviPost)—In 2019, Saulos Klaus Chilima and Lazarus Chakwera of UTM and Malawi Congress Party (MCP) respectively, went solo into the botched presidential election with much pomp and confidence to secure victory but they were humbled by the then incumbent president Peter Mutharika.

Knowing pretty well that the then ruling Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) was a hard nut to crack, Chakwera and Chilima, upon getting piece of advice from different quarters who thought DPP was off track and needed a replacement, joined hands to dislodge Mutharika in the court sanctioned Fresh Presidential election held on June 23, 2020.

After the historical election, which saw Reverend Chakwera ascending to power, the two political parties have been pretending to be in cordial relationship though it was clear in the first place that the alliance would end after the election.

But the pretence is over, thanks to by-elections expected to be conducted almost five constituencies across the country. It is now becoming clear that in 2025 (or 2024) Chakwera and Chilima will go into election separately. The by-elections have said it all and the deep cracks have been exposed.

In Karonga Central Constituency, popularly known as Bhengazi due to violent acts that resurface during campaign period, MCP and UTM supporters have already assaulting each other. The constituency fell vacant following the death of parliamentarian Cornelius Mwalwanda.

As people were expecting the two alliance partners to work together by fielding one candidate, both UTM and MCP have their own shadow MPs.

MCP is being represented by Leonard Mwalwanda, nephew to the late MP Mwalwanda, while UTM is being represented by old timer Frank Tumpale Mwenefumbo who was previously fighting for top leadership in the Alliance For Democracy (AFORD) before accepting to partner with Atupele Muluzi in the botched 2019 presidential election.

MCP top brass who invaded the Karonga central constituency on Saturday had advised their Tonse alliance government partner, UTM Party to stop wasting its resources campaigning in the area, saying they will retain the seat during the November 10 by-election.

Speaking in series of rallies, the group which was headed by Speaker of parliament and MCP deputy secretary general Catherine Gotani Hara, first deputy speaker Dalitso Kazombo, Minister of lands Kenzie Msukwa and Minister of homeland security Richard Chimwendo Banda all in unison said the MCP candidate Leonard Mwalwanda will inherit his late uncle, Dr. Cornelius Mwalwanda’s seat.

In his speech at Lupembe ground, Chimwendo Banda said Leonard Mwalwanda is the only candidate who knows and will complete the development projects left by his uncle.

Speaker of Parliament who was at Mwenilondo said voting for a candidate from another party is just the same as killing development in the area.

Minister of land Msukwa openly told the Katili residents that other candidates including Frank Tumpale Mwenifumbo of UTM are just wasting their resources.

Addressing the gathering at Mlare area, first deputy speaker Kazombo said MCP which is the ruling party will retain the seat.

But the rivalry reached its climax when unidentified people, believed to be from UTM camp, assaulted MCP supporters on Saturday evening in the volatile constituency during the announcement of the party’s political rally scheduled for Sunday.

The incident took place at Mwenilondo Trading Centre in the area.

In an interview, MCP district chairperson Emmanuel Nkhoma said the four were injured.

“Immediately after the attack, we rushed to Karonga District Hospital for treatment,” he said.

The incident has ignited fear of violence resurfacing in the constituency ahead of the November 10 by-election.

However, MCP went ahead with the rally at Mwenilondo Primary School Ground on Sunday where it unveiled Leonard Mwalwanda as its candidate in the by-election.

Addressing supporters, the party’s second deputy president Harry Mkandawire condemned the incident.

“In a democracy, let everyone campaign freely everywhere because at the end of the day, it is the electorates who decide who to vote for depending on facts on the ground,” he said.

Mkandawire also used the political rally to urge people to register in large numbers to vote in the by-election.

Mkandawire is also on record to have mocked UTM supporters that their party was not on the ballot; therefore, MCP remains the ruling party. Mkandawire’s tantrums came following Minister Patricia Kaliati recent visit to Karonga where it is alleged that during her visit she held a meeting with women from the party where MEDF forms were distributed to women’s groups.

Mkandawire claimed that Kaliati distributed fake MEDF forms in Karonga.

He added that the first beneficiaries of the MEDF forms will be MCP supporters because its leader Lazarus Chakwera is the president.

No apology has been issued from the MCP executive and Chakwera and Chilima are still working together as nothing is being happening in the Tonse Alliance. But Chilima is another rare character; amaganiza bho heavy.

Despite UTM and MCP supporters engaging in uncivilized politics in the constituency, political campaigns in the area have been marred with violence since 2009 when late Cornelius Mwalwanda emerged on the political scene when Mwenefumbo was very hot during the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) regime.

The constituency is nicknamed Benghazi after a time-honoured battlefield in Libya.

The post By-elections divide Malawi’s Tonse Alliance: Will they reach Canaan together? appeared first on The Maravi Post.

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