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Predictions from Wise One from the East on Malawi 2014 Elections

Wise One From the EastThe 2014 Presidential Elections will be tight. You have heard this before- not news at all. While a lot of people think that it is difficult to predict who will win the presidential battle- The Wise One from the East thinks otherwise. The numbers are there and trends can easily be analysed based on past results and the context in which an election took place. I am not a Natty Silver but I can play around with numbers.

I will dwell on two districts for now, - Blantyre and Lilongwe (before moving to other districts ).

In 2009 the election results for the two districts and cities were as follows:

Lilongwe - John Tembo won the district against an incumbent - President Bingu Wamutharika with 312,010 votes for Tembo and 255616 for Bingu.

Blantyre - Bingu won overwhelmingly with 240,482 votes with Tembo trailing at 75,500 votes.

The factors in play in 2009 and for 2014- we now have PP which has Joyce Banda with an advantage of incumbency. At the same time her short reign has been faced with a lot of scandals including jet gate and cash gate. We also have APM, brother to Bingu at the helm of DPP and DPP had its own challenges before Bingu died.

MCP were in an Alliance with UDF that a lot of MCP supporters never supported strongly. Joyce Banda campaigned strongly for Bingu in 2009- now she has to campaign for herself and her party. DPP had a sympathy vote as it had a minority government and had done a lot of development projects during the first term and Malawians wanted to give Bingu a majority to continue with his development agenda. The incumbency may not be that favourable for Joyce Banda as her reign has not made a huge difference in developing the country.

MCP has a new President and fresh - who is new on the political scene and has rejuvenated the MCP base and independents who want to give Malawi a new chance. Atupele Muluzi's Agenda for Change has remobilised the UDF base and seems to be resonating very well with the UDF base. Does DPP control Blantyre? I can not answer this question as what was in play in 2009 is not in play in 2014. Is APM just as strong as Bingu? I do not know.

What do all these mean?

For Lilongwe, unless something big that is unexpected happens, Chakwera will take the day with APM, JB and Atupele fighting for the second, third and fourth. Is MCP in control of Lilongwe - I would say yes! Lazarus Chakwera is a Lilongwe Boy- isn't he? However, UDF and PP have attempted to change this with their running mates all having some links with Lilongwe. But- this may not overturn the tables.

For Blantyre, it will be a tight race and very difficult to call. But based on the trends in past elections : either Atupele or APM may win it narrowly with JB coming third and Chakwera fourth. However, this is inconclusive as the impact of PP is yet to be fully determined and anything can happen. However, the number of votes how small they are received from anywhere in the country will make a huge difference in this election. So it is not necessarily about who wins where but also:

1. How wide the margin will be in areas a leading candidate wins
2. How a candidate has capability to collect a consistent number of votes where they lose across the country

This is 2014 and what was in play in 2009 is not in play in 2014. A lot of things and factors have changed. Perception. Incumbency. Fresh faces on the presidential list. Cashgate. jet gate. New political party which has a lot of stolen or cash gate money- PP. MCP being led by a new face Lazarus Chakwera. UDF being led by young Atupele Muluzi.

The Presidential Battle for Mzimba 

As I have said before, these elections will be very competitive and several factors will determine who takes the districts that will matter at the end. Apart from Lilongwe and Blantyre, Mzimba has one of the highest number of voters and my predictions are that whoever takes Lilongwe, Mzimba, Karonga and Kasungu in addition to other key districts will stand better chances of becoming the President of Malawi.

Mzimba: in 2009 Bingu won with 331,000 votes with Tembo only garnering 11,073. Why did Bingu win in 2009 with such a huge margin? Several factors were in play: Bingu's first term was exceptional. With a minority government he managed to get a number of development projects in motion. I remember meeting a sibweni in Edingeni pushing his bicycle carrying a bag of fertiliser saying "he was carrying Bingu wane". This was how popular Bingu was in 2009 that the electorate wanted to give him another mandate to continue with his development projects.

Another reason was that a lot of the heavyweights of Mzimba were all behind DPP and Bingu in 2009 including "mwana withu" - Goddall Gondwe; Mkandawire, Gotani and others. It was not difficult for DPP to convince Mzimba that Bingu was the man. John Tembo was this time around punished for his teaming up with UDF. Mzimba has previously been sympathetic with MCP but this time around- they thought Bingu was the man.

In 2014- other factors come to play. Bingu is no more and his second term was met with a lot of challenges. APM is in charge- can he convince Mzimba as his brother did in 2009? This I have no answer. PP has Khumbo Kachale, Gotani and Harry Mkandawire pushing for Mzimba. Of course DPP still has Goddall Gondwe and others. Now comes Lazarus Chakwera with his Nyagondwe handy to be unleashed to speak Tumbuka to the Mzimba electorate. At the same time the Constituency Approach that MCP has adopted would ensure that it garners several voters across the district who cumulatively would make some sense. UDF should also not be ruled out although its chances in Mzimba may not be as realistically significant as in other districts in the North.

Who will carry Mzimba?
This will be very tight. I can predict that Chakwera, APM and Joyce Banda will battle it out. However, with cash gate and jet gate etc being well understood by the voters in this district, I am sure that a punishment vote will be unleashed on PP's President Joyce Banda especially on her treatment of "mwana withu" Khumbo Kachale. I can with a Low Confidence Level predict Chakwera taking Mzimba with APM coming second; Joyce Banda coming third. Atupele coming forth. It may be too early to call this- but based on the past voting patterns of Mzimba where Tembo and Chakuamba had previously won this district, I do not see any reason why MCP would not win this district again. MCP has put in some good candidates in some constituencies who can help move the votes. However, DPP still has a good political machinery that can propel them to some good number of votes in Mzimba.

We can have another discussion on Mzimba after 20th May 2014! At least I have looked at election results from 1994 until 2009 and looked at the current dynamics. I have not conducted a fake poll- most importantly. I have looked at facts and the context.

The Presidential Battle for Mangochi

The Southern Region will be the most highly contested region of the three regions. Mangochi will help define who will be the King or Queen of the Southern Region as it has a big number of registered voters.

How did Mangochi vote in 2009? Mangochi gave Bingu 71,279 and MCP/UDF Alliance 181689 votes. Mangochi has previously been UDF territory and in 2009 UDF did not field any candidate as they had an Alliance with MCP. However, UDF still carried the day against an incumbent in Bingu. regardless of Amayi speaking Yao and Bingu's achievements during his first term, Bakili Muluzi used his political acumen to ensure a win. This also helped MCP make some headway and be accepted as a party that can compete in democratic Malawi. We did not have PP in 2009- obviously.

How will Mangochi go in 2014? Mangochi remains UDF territory unless otherwise stated. Young Atupele Muluzi has put in place an excellent and exciting campaign and he has demonstrated that he can be a political bigwig without relying on his dad. His political style amazes many. He has transformed UDF from the dying party after DPP broke out of UDF and the party became an opposition party. Mangochi is one of the bases for UDF. PP has attempted to make some headways in Mangochi but the penetration is yet to be confirmed until after the elections. PP has never contested in an election and this will be a big test. DPP has some political base in Mangochi and can still pose some competition. MCP may have been helped by its Alliance with UDF in 2009 elections. Not sure how this will come into play in 2014.

My Prediction: I can confidently say that Atupele Muluzi will take Mangochi with a significant majority with DPP, PP and MCP having some good share of the votes.

We can have another discussion on Mangochi after 20th May 2014! At least I have looked at election results from 1994 until 2009 and looked at the current dynamics. I have not conducted a fake poll- most importantly. I have looked at facts and the context.

(Disclaimer: Predictions can go wrong; Focus on Campaigning- best results come from a very focused and convincing campaign and not from Predictions! Cashgate may not guarantee you a win.)

Wise One from the East!

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