By Steve Chilundu
Unofficial results from the October 26 by-elections last night showed dominance of Tonse Alliance lead partner Malawi Congress Party (MCP) in the race for the three parliamentary seats.
At press time around 11.30pm, MCP candidates were leading in Nkhotakota North East, Dedza Central East and Mzimba East constituencies.
In the sole local government by-election, former governing Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) was set to retain Chimwalire Ward in Balaka South Constituency.
In Dedza Central East Constituency, MCP’s Joshua Malango was ahead of seven other candidates based on results from eight out of 22 polling centres. He had 4 782 votes followed by independent candidate Solomon Mkomba Kachitsa with 3 618 votes.
UTM Party candidate Patrick Siwinda was trailing with 590 votes, Elliot Kasawala of DPP had 312 votes, Bonnex Malunga (independent) had 232, Laudon Malingamoyo Phiri (independent) amassed 547 and Rogean Gondwe (independent) had 145 votes.
Malawi Electoral Commission (MEC) said the constituency had 29 630 registered voters.
Dedza district commissioner Emmanuel Bulukutu said he was impressed with the turnout yesterday adding that the voting process was peaceful.
He said: “We have had no challenges, all the centres opened in good time with sufficient polling materials in place. It has been calm and security was tight with people voting freely.”
In Nkhotakota North East, Malawi News Agency reported that the constituency had 25 964 voters in 36 polling stations.
Nine candidates battled it out for the seat and as we went to press, MCP candidate Overstone Kondowe was leading followed by Zelita Banda (independent) from 20 of the 36 polling centres tallied.
Other contestants were Panji Chirambo of Assembly for Democracy and Development (ADD),
Aisha Silver of Democratic Progressive Party (DPP), Chimwemwe Chidothe (UTM Party), Patrick Kampaliro (Aford), Aleke Kamangeni (United Democratic Front-UDF) and independents Gift Mbuna and Franklyn Yonamu.
In Mzimba Ea s t Constituency, it was a tight race between MCP’s Donnex Muva and Aford’s Wachepa Phiri. Other candidates were Christopher Munyenyembe (UTM Party), Dr. Reuben Ngwenya (independent), Wesley Mwafulirwa (DPP) and John Phiri (Freedom Party).
By 10pm, results from 10 centres showed Muva of MCP leading by 1 110 votes trailed by Wachepa Phiri of Aford with 1 025 votes.
According to MEC figures, about 18 833 people registered to vote in the constituency which has about 34 polling stations.
In an interview in Mzimba , MEC commissioner Anthony Mkumbwa said they are satisfied with how the voting process went in the district. He said: “The voting went on smoothly without major challenges and we would like to thank political parties for fielding in different party monitors during the election.” But earlier in the day, some candidates complained that they could not vote because they registered outside the constituency. These were are Muva, Phiri and Kumwenda.
In an interview, MEC director of media and public relations Sangwani Kumwenda said: “There were no voter transfers in this by-election. Voter transfers were conducted in 2019 that is why those candidates will not vote.”
In Chimwalire Ward in Balaka as of 10 pm, Osman Sani Mapira of DPP was leading with 954 votes trailed by Lackson Likawa with 269 votes after tallying votes from eight out of 20 polling stations.
Polling centres opened at 6am and closed at 6pm, with no report of any disturbance, according to MEC chairperson Chifundo Kachale who visited Chimwalire Ward and later Dedza Central East Constituency to appreciate the election process.
In an interview, he described the voting as peaceful and pegged the turn out at between 40 and 50 percent.
“So far, the turnout has been encouraging,” Kachale, a judge of the High Court of Malawi, said in Dedza.
The by-elections followed the vacancies that arose due to the deaths of incumbent office bearers this year.
Nkhotakota North East Constituency legislator Martha Chanjo Lunji (DPP) died on July 13 2021, Dedza Central East Constituency MP Swithin Mkomba (MCP) died on July 27 2021, Mzimba East Constituency independent MP Wezie Gondwe passed away on September 1 2021 while Chimwalire Ward councillor Joseph Daniel (DPP) died on August 4 2021.
Since June 2020 to date, MEC has held by-elections in 13 constituencies and five wards