Suicide over Malawi vote: The case of Godfrey Kamanya, Malawi’s former Deputy Minister


A deputy minister in Malawi President Joyce Banda’s cabinet committed suicide yesterday after losing his parliamentary seat in this week’s general election.

The tragedy was a bitter blow for Banda, who later said there had been “serious irregularities” in the conduct of the election.

Outgoing deputy Local Government Minister Godfrey Kamanya shot himself in his home yesterday morning.

While official results of the election are still to be announced, preliminary results aired on radio stations showed Kamanya was likely to lose his parliamentary seat. According to reports, Kamanya left a suicide note saying he had taken his life because of misunderstandings related to politics, and asking Banda to help pay school fees for his child.

Banda said the election was fraught with complications from people voting multiple times to the computerised voter counting system collapsing.

“It has come to my attention that there [are] some serious irregularities in the counting and announcement of results in some parts of the country,” she said, calling for an “immediate manual audit of the whole process”.

This is the first major electoral test for Banda, who came to power when president Bingu wa Mutharika died in office two years ago.

But, after Mutharika’s corruption-tainted rule, Banda’s own government has been ensnared in a $30-million (R310-million) corruption scandal dubbed “Cashgate” that has prompted foreign donors to freeze badly needed aid.

Amid unconfirmed reports that Banda was trailing in polls to Peter Mutharika, the former president’s brother, she warned the media against “creating a false impression of the possible winners”.

Voting, which started on Tuesday, was extended into yesterday when delays of up to 10 hours prompted riots in Blantyre, where the army was deployed.

Banda’s request for an audit was rebuffed by the country’s electoral commission chief, who told the media that despite problems with the electronic counting system, the tally was continuing manually.

Maxon Mbendera said Banda’s claim was caused by “desperation”.

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