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Archive for May, 2014

In the run-up to the elections on 20th May 2014, I am watching with anticipation. There are twelve candidates running in the presidential elections with four front runners; Joyce Banda (Peoples Party), Lazarus Chakwera (Malawi Congress Party), Atupele Muluzi (United Democratic Front), and Peter Mutharika (Democratic Progressive Party).

Joyce Banda is the current President; she assumed power after Bingu Wa Mutharika died whilst in office. Her move into the role of President was contentious as the time and since assuming the role, she has devalued the kwacha by nearly 50% and has re-secured support from donor countries and the IMF which had been withdrawn under the previous regime. Forex is no longer so difficult to get, tobacco prices have risen and there are no longer severe fuel shortages like there were in 2011. However, Banda was never actually elected, as Vice President it was the constitution that ensured she became president when her predecessor died.

Watching the election campaign from a distance, the colours of the PP and DPP, dominate the news headlines and it feels a little like this is a Banda v’s Mutharika race. Peter Mutharika is the brother of former president Bingu Wa Mutharika and is now the DPP candidate for the 2014 elections. He was allegedly involved in the plans to bypass the constitution after his brother’s death, to prevent the succession of Joyce Banda to the presidency. The DPP dominate in the southern region of Malawi, however they have the memory of Bingu’s final years in government overshadowing their campaign.

The Afro-barometer report on the upcoming Malawi elections surveyed adults of voting age and “based on the stated voting intentions of adult Malawians some six to eight weeks before the May 20, 2014 elections, their report stated the outcome of the elections is too close to call” (1). The below pie chart, taken from the Afro-barometer survey, illustrates how those asked would vote.

Malawi Election Pie Chart (2)

Whilst it is maybe too close to call, all the candidates for the Presidential elections have signed a Peace Declaration (2). The PAC (Public Affairs Committee Peace Declaration titled: Take a Stand against Violence in Malawi During and After Elections; hopes to engage the election candidates in ensuring a peaceful and democratic election and a process afterwards which is for the good of Malawi.

As I watch the political campaigns develop in the lead-up to the May 20 elections, I hope that they are free of violence. Of the four front runner in the election, the People’s Party continue to have a stronghold in the north, the MCP in the central region and the DPP, followed by the UDF in the southern region. Whilst the Afro-barometer poll suggests that the DPP have a slight lead, I do wonder if (or how much) the legacy of the DPP’s previous term in power and the memories of Bingu’s Government will influence their current chances. Is electing the DPP a chance Malawi can afford to take?

Reading the news, Banda has made some controversial decisions since her time as President, although she has managed to entice the international donors back to Malawi. Having made some unpopular decisions and viewed as not following through on all their promised, the PP has encountered some problems during their time in Government. The question is have they done enough to win an election?

As Election Day approaches, it looks like this 12 horse race has 4 (or maybe 2) front runners – now we have to wait and see who crosses the line first.

References
(1) http://www.afrobarometer.org/files/documents/dispatches/ab_r6_dispatchno1.pdf
(2) http://allafrica.com/stories/201405100138.html

By Miss Alli Coyle
PhD Candidate

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