By REX CHIKOKO
Malawi’s Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) has failed to retain a parliamentary seat in the northern part of the country in what analysts see as a major blow to President Bingu wa’Mutharika’s political formation.
The by-election was billed as the litmus test for the ruling party following President Mutharika’s dwindling popularity amid accusations of poor human rights and governance records.
Preliminary results released by the Malawi Electoral Commission (MEC) indicated that Alliance for Democracy (Aford)–a party with a single seat in parliament–won the by-election, beating DPP, which assigned over 10 of its National Governing Council members, including President Mutharika, to campaign in the area.
Meanwhile, DPP Campaign Director Ken Zikhale Ng’oma dismissed the win as fake, accusing the victor, Mr Enock Chihana, of colluding with MEC to ensure the ruling party’s loss.
“There has been massive rigging by the winner and when we complained about the rigging, Malawi Electoral Commission did not pay attention, we are very disappointed,” he said.
Mr Ng’oma said the conduct of MEC chairperson Justice Anastansia Msosa left a lot to be desired and that they would seek court redress on the matter.
Aford Vice-President Tennson Chinkhokwe Banda said the win was evidence of the rebirth of Aford, which many had written off after it lost over 32 seats in previous two elections.
Aford now has two seats in parliament.
The winner will fill the vacancy created following the death of DPP’s Moses Chirambo in August of 2010, a few days after he was dropped as a Cabinet minister.
During Mr Chirambo’s funeral, one church leader accused President Mutharika of killing the minister, citing the manner he was sacked from Cabinet. The accusation led to the arrest of the church minister who was accused of treason.
President Mutharika later dropped the case when human rights organisation included the matter on the list of violations under the President’s regime.