Political debates by parliamentary candidates in Mzimba South West and Mzimba Central by-elections were on Monday persistently interrupted by insults and boos from rival camps.

But while the rivalry was more of attempts to outdo each other in cheering their candidates in Mzimba South West the situation was more of preventing rival candidates from being heard with opposition Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) supporters the more clear aggressors.

Each time People’s Party (PP) candidate Aram Beza was given an opportunity to speak, jeers referring to the movement of beds from Mponela to Mzimba roared from a section of DPP supporters who even hanged their heads through windows from outside Kapiri Teacher Development Centre Hall where the debates took place.

Most of the supporters that caused the mayhem at Euthini Tuesday were the ones that disrupted the later part of the debate at Edingeni in Mzimba South West the previous day, with the most conspicuous being a woman who hurled unprintable language while hanging her head into the debate rooms.

She was donning a white t-shirt with a picture of DPP interim leader and 2014 presidential hopeful Peter Mutharika.

Debate moderator Owen Lupeska had some tough time to stop the deafening voices from outside the room, often asking party leaders to quell their supporters.

No effort materialised even with Commissioner Maxwell Mezuwa Banda, who was guest of honour at the event, threatening action against the perpetrators.

Beza, who was visibly affected by chants against him as he had to wait for some tranquillity, looked unshaken and responded to questions during the time that remained.

Although he stressed that he was not responsible for the movement of beds from Mponela, he said the action—which the Ministry of Health said was a routine exercise—was a positive move saying there is need for beds at Euthini health centre.

He shot back at his detractors calling them people who never wished the constituency well, saying “you want patients to sleep on the floor. I don’t want that.”

Five candidates namely Beza, Owen Mkandawire of DPP, Anita Wezi Njolwa of Alliance for Democracy (Aford), Bonofasio Ngulube of the National Rainbow Coalition (Narc) and Joseph Mavuto Kachali (independent) took part in Tuesday’s debate.

The sixth candidate Denis Kandodo Mvula (independent) was not present.

On Monday, PP’s Raymond Nkhata, DPP’s Ronald Chavula and independent candidates James Nthala and Baxter Mazunda took part in the debate.

Malawi Electoral Commission (Mec) through commissioners Bernard Malango and Mezuwa Banda urged candidates to conduct their campaigns peacefully and abide by the electoral code of conduct to avoid violence.

Voting takes place on October 9 following the death of Donton Mkandawire in Mzimba Central and the appointment of Khumbo Kachali of Mzimba South West as Vice President.

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ZIMENE MUMAKONDA

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