Barely a week after governing Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) lured some independent legislators to its fold, opposition Malawi Congress Party (MCP) has confirmed courting 18 independents to boost its numbers in Parliament.

In an interview yesterday, MCP spokesperson the Reverend Maurice Munthali said the independent members of Parliament (MPs) have since pledged to work with the party.

He said the party was scouting for more independents.

“I can confidently say that 18 independents have pledged to work with us. Most of them were our own party members who decided to stand as independent candidates because of the anomalies during primary elections.

“They are now here to work with us. This [18] is not the final number as the party has met over 30 of the independents who have been in talks with our president [Lazarus Chakwera] and vice-president [Muhammad Sidik Mia],” said Munthali.

He said MCP seeks to have more independents to have a strong opposition and stand a better chance of claiming the position of Speaker of Parliament next week.

On the other hand, DPP is also gunning for the same and has been wooing independents to bolster its numerical strength.

A week ago, DPP confirmed that President Peter Mutharika met about 30 independent MPs.

In the May 21 Tripartite Elections, DPP won 62 seats in the 193-seat National Assembly, MCP and independents got 55 each with United Democratic Front (UDF) getting 10, People’s Party (PP) won five, UTM Party has four and Alliance for Democracy (Aford) has one. Parliamentary elections were held in 192 constituencies.

In an interview yesterday, DPP spokesperson Nicholas Dausi also said his party was getting on board independent candidates who were frustrated during the party’s primary elections.

He said: “They [independents] are coming back.”

DPP and MCP, which have the numbers in Parliament, said they are still consulting on possible candidates for the position of Speaker.

Reacting to the potential shifting of independents to parties, Chancellor College-based political analyst Ernest Thindwa said the trend is not surprising as most MPs, after elections, fulfil their personal wishes.

He said the conduct of switching political allegiance was a betrayal of the electorate.

On the race for the Speaker, UTM Party and PP said they will vote for a capable candidate regardless of political affiliation.

In an interview, PP spokesperson Ackson Kalaile Banda said his party, which was in an electoral alliance with MCP, will support a candidate fit for the job.

He said: “We are going to support a candidate that has dignity and ready to govern in a mature way.”

UTM Party director of publicity Joseph Chidanti Malunga agreed with Banda, saying: “Gone are the times that we should be electing a Speaker based on party. We should look at capability.”

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ZIMENE MUMAKONDA

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