PRESS STATEMENT FROM PATRICK BANDAWE MCP CANDIDATE FOR DEDZA EAST
Dedza East, November 26, 2018
It is with a lot of pain that I, Patrick Bandawe, issue this statement to express my dismay at the decision by the Malawi Congress Party (MCP) to go against the decision by the party faithful in Dedza East constituency to have me represent them in next year’s Parliamentary Elections.
For a start, the Presiding Officer, Mr Peter Chalera, who was delegated by the party, declared me winner by 821 votes against the incumbent MP, Hon. Juliana Lunguzi’s 815.
Five candidates, namely Hon. Lunguzi, Mussa Mbwana, Davie Kupempha, Steven Bizwick and I, were competing in the primary elections. There were 1,917 delegates who voted out of 1,950 delegates.
The elections were deemed free and fair and there were no upheavals after the count to suggest the vote had either been rigged or tampered with.
As a background, the party, at constituency level, had agreed beforehand that no contestant would provide transport for the delegates in a bid to ensure that no candidate ferried ‘fake’ delegates to the polls.
As such, the candidates contributed funds to a transport committee that was headed by constituency chairperson, Mr Paul M’mbaya.
However, on the day of the elections, Hon. Lunguzi ferried delegates to the venue in five trucks. As a result, there was some dispute on the composition of the delegates, especially those who came on the trucks.
But in the spirit of democracy, we agreed to proceed with the election despite this glaring irregularity.
In the end, MCP supporters in Dedza East elected me as their candidate for next year’s elections, a fact that was confirmed by the Presiding Officer, who went to great lengths to ensure that every vote was counted.
For this reason, I am deeply troubled by the party’s decision to declare Hon. Lunguzi as the winner based on the following claims, as stated by the party’s spokesperson Rev Maurice Munthali and as quoted on various media platforms today:
o That 31 areas in the constituency did not turn up to vote: According to Rev Munthali, had these delegates taken part, Hon. Lunguzi would have won the election, hence the party’s decision to declare her as the winner.
o One of the contestants ordered his followers to join my queue: The party feels that Hon. Ms. Lunguzi should be declared winner because, in all fairness, she was going to win all the same.
o As a signatory of the 50-50 Campaign, the party felt it needs to let justice flow and, in all fairness, Hon. Lunguzi had carried the day.
In light of the foregoing, I would like to address the issues as follows.
• I need clarification from MCP Headquarters why they rejected the results by a Presiding Officer who it sent all the way from Lilongwe to conduct the elections. Does this not defeat the ends of both democracy and justice?
• Why has the party made the decision based on only one side of the story? While they have listened to Hon. Lunguzi’s version of events, the party has not yet made an attempt to hear me out. As I issue this press statement, on Monday 4pm, the party has made no effort to reach out to me. What kind of justice is this?
• If the party felt there were irregularities during the polls, the option was to declare the elections null and void and order a re-run. What prophetic basis is the MCP using to determine that Hon. Lunguzi would have won had the 31 areas had taken part in the election.
I request the party to provide me with an explanation within the next 24 hours about how it decided to declare Hon. Lunguzi as winner of the elections despite results of the vote, as confirmed at the constituency level and by the Presiding Officer who was duly assigned and trusted by the party HQ.
I will be forced to seek legal redress if the party does not address this matter, especially in view of the fact that the party seemed to have settled on the winner long before the elections and it is determined to ensure this dream is not disrupted.
I thank you.