Joyce Banda To Withdraw From Presidential Race

By Wanga Gwede

People’s Party (PP) national executive committee (NEC) members are meeting at the residence of former president Joyce Banda to discuss a possible electoral combination with Malawi Congress Party (MCP) to compete as one force in the coming elections continue, Nyasa Times understands.

Joyce Banda has let PP national executive committee members to meet and discuss as about electoral coalition in the coming elections

There has been speculation that Banda would pull out of presidential race with her running mate Dr Jerry Jana to pave way for an opposition coalition.

Banda invited PP executive members to a meeting to discuss the electoral combination.

Nyasa Times understand that the former president has had talks this week with UTM party patron Noel Masangwi persuading her party to return to negotiating table with the Vice President Saulos Chilima and UTM party for an alliance.

She is also reported to have had discussion with MCP presidential flag bearer Lazarus Chakwera for a long time on working together in the elections.

During the NEC meeting, Banda has left the members with the two issues to discuss.

However, following the breakdown of an earlier working relationship with UTM, the members are favouring MCP partnership.

Banda has maintained that opposition parties should select a joint candidate in this year’s presidential election to unseat President Peter Mutharika and his Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) and that she would be ready to “turn the page” and let a formidable candidate lead.

If this happens, that alliance could pose the most credible challenge to President Mutharika, the flag bearer of the ruling DPP.

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Banda, who served as Malawi’s first female president from 2012 to 2014, has said she is prepared not to run and back the electoral alliance for Malawi to “have a good leader who is able to decisively deal with various problems the country if facing.”

She said a coalition “should be the best option” as has been the case in many countries.

Banda ‘s PP can make a strong showing in the northern and eastern regions, while MCP has support in central region stronghold and now southern Lower Shire with its running mate Sidik Mia .

New party UTM of Chilima has never been politically tested despite having high profile personalities in his party.

Political commentators say political coalitions must be for Malawi’s, pointing out that votes on May 21 2019 are likely to be fragmented with no real majority winner.

Zomba-based Institute of Public Opinion and Research (Ipor) in a survey between August and September 2018 indicated DPP is poised to take 33 percent of the votes, followed by MCP with 31 percent and UTM Party with 28 percent and PP trailing a distant six percent.

It therefore makes sense that opposition parties aiming to unseat the current government opt for an alliance as PP would boost MCP numbers to cross the line. Former vice president Khumbo Kachali and his Freedom Party are already in support of MCP presidential ticket.

University of Malawi’s Chancellor College-based political commentator Ernest Thindwa has observed that opposition parties “stand better to benefit a lot from an electoral coalition.”

Social commentator Stanley Onjezani Kenani is on record to have posted on Facebook: “I think the former president, Mrs Joyce Banda, is the only voice of reason in a crowded opposition field. She says she is open to the idea of a coalition. She does not mind who leads it. The truth is, the murderous DPP can only be defeated if the opposition rallies behind one candidate. But egos the size of Kilimanjaro will, once again, hand victory to thieves.”

Malawi, one of the world’s poorest and most aid-dependent countries, will hold presidential, parliamentary and local council elections on May 21.

Source: Nyasa Times

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