By Mercy Kawenga, MEC
The much anticipated Malawi Congress Party( MCP) primary elections are set for Saturday in Salima North West and Dedza East constituencies respectively while for Dowa South East, still in court.
In all of these constituencies, there are women aspirants such as Dr. Jessie Kabwila, Juliana Lunguzi and Halima Daudi who is battling in court after a court injunction was obtained against her by the sitting M.P Harry Njoka Chipeni over the way the elections were being handled in Dowa South East.
This is the second time the MCP will be conducting primaries in Salima North West and Dedza East after the first ones were suspended due to violence and while for Dowa South East, the elections didn’t take place as their were differences on the number of electoral colleges to vote which resulted to the sitting M.P obtaining a court injunction.
However, the party has communicated to all the aspirants advising them to be accompanied by bodyguards to the primary elections venue, a development which is strange and the first of its kind in the mighty MCP.
It has been reported that the party has agreed with all the aspirants that only area committees will vote and not constituency, district or regional ones.
Dowa District Council’s chair, Dowa West_ Kayembe ward councilor, Simeon Nyemba, confirmed that Dowa South East primaries will not be conducted until the High Court lift the injunction.
Nyemba expressed hope that in the second election to come for Dowa South East, a clear winner will be decided saying the party is working on the area committees to vote.
Primary elections in MCP have been marred by disagreements, complaints and violence prompting some losing candidates accusing the party officials conducting elections of coming with preferred names in their pockets and 23 aspirants are reported to have taken the party to court for failing to handle the primaries in the interest of all.
But, speaking during a District Multi party liason committee meeting held at the Dowa boma recently, Public Affairs Committee( PAC) Dowa chair, Reverend Fr. Elias Chizule, called on organisations claiming to be supporting women in a quest for 50:50 campaign to assist losing women aspirants in primaries and have capacity to win the elections to stand independent.
Fr. Chizule recommended for a deliberate law which must be put in place to nominate women as MPs and councilors saying the current hostile political environment is not conducive for them to compete against men who have huge resources of supporting their campaign trail.
In his remarks, NGO Gender Coordination Network( GCN) Programs Officer, Anthony Mkupira said organisations for 50:50 campaign have no powers of guiding women who failed in the primaries to stand independent saying it is up the candidate herself to decide which way to go.