Lilongwe. (September 7, 2011). Fallen Alliance for Democracy (Aford) Tuesday rose from ashes to reclaim a parliamentary seat it lost to the ruling Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) in highly contested bye-elections held in the northern region district of Rumphi, a constituency DPP took after it’s mesmerizing landslide victory in the 2009 General Elections. The fall from glory by the ruling DPP is a result of loss of popularity following reports of escalating dictatorial tendencies by its president Bingu wa Mutharika, enactment of unpopular laws, bad economic and political governance. Malawians want president Mutharika to solve the current fuel and foreign exchange (forex) reserves shortages, an explanation of the president’s sudden vast wealth and First Lady Callista Mutharika’s MK1 million salary for doing charity work.
They also demand a permanent solution to the current academic freedom stand-off that has seen Chancellor College, the main constituent college of the University of Malawi, closed for over six months. Aford who fought for the introduction of multi-party politics alongside former ruling United Democratic Front (UDF) in 1994 has held the parliamentary seat since the advent of political pluralism only to lose it to a DPP legislator, Professor Moses Chirambo, who died last year. Aford candidate Enock Chihana, son to freedom fighter Chakufwa Chihana, overwhelmingly scooped the coveted seat by over 6, 641 votes followed by DPP’s 3, 275 votes. However, the voting exercise was mired by apathy with only 14, 000 voters turning out to cast their ballots out of 31, 000 registered voters. Newly formed People’s Party (PP) of beleaguered state vice president Joyce Banda candidate Chimduma Mkandawire came close on the heals of DDP’s Norman Nyirenda with 2, 832 votes followed by northern region political block CCAP church backed People’s Democratic Movement (PDM) who got 1, 578. DPP campaign director Zikhale Ng’oma has said the elections were not free and fair as “DPP supporters were intimated by opposition members who threatened to torch down their houses.”
But Aford vice president Chinkhokwe Banda said constituency was a backyard of Aford but was only lost to DPP because of the death of its (Aford) founder president Chakufwa Chihana. “Even though DPP used its state machinery including helicopters for campaigning they are no match to our candidate,” said Banda. PP’s elections director Rev. Emmanuel Chimkwita Phiri congratulated Aford for the victory but said the exercise was an eye opener to the month old party. “We have learnt a lot from this exercise and have picked up lessons,” he said adding, “since our party is just a month old we are happy with the inroads that we made.” DPP and PDM have both raised objections to the results and have meanwhile filed complaints with the Electoral Commission, Malawi’s elections body. Meanwhile the parliamentary composition of DPP legislators is not clear after its fall from grace, the formation of PP and the expulsion of others critical of its leadership. After the 2009 elections DPP had 114 members of parliament. Aford now has two members of parliament while DPP continues to enjoy a disgruntled majority in the 193 member strong national assembly.
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