As I conclude my look at the parliamentary race, my gut feeling is that the race will be most competitive in the South, what with three—UDF, PP and DPP- of the four big parties coming from this region. Or will it be a matter of splitting the vote? Here with a sampling of the players:
With 12 constituencies for grabs in Mangochi, nearly all the big parties have fielded candidates, averaging six per constituency. But the familiar names to watch are:
Alfred Nkwanda Mwechumu, a veteran MP in Mangochi north east, will be standing as an independent after being yellow the past years.
Abubakar Mbaya (UDF), is one name that stands out in Mangochi East, so is Yusuf Matumula (PP) and Lilian Patel (UDF) in Mangochi south. Will Patel make it back to parliament this time around?
In Mangochi central, the battle could be between Dr. Clement Chiwaya (UDF), who once quit as deputy minister during the Bingu era to remain UDF MP, and former presidential aide and Anglican cleric Macdonald Sembereka (PP).
In Mangochi west, there are five independents, including Okoma-atani Aipira, the current DPP MP, while Mangochi Monkey Bay will see a tough race among well-known politicians Ralph Jooma (PP) and Hophmally Makande, an independent but a former PP top official.
Will former minister Yusuf Mwawa make it back to parliament as an independent from Balaka central east? That will be answered from May 20 as he has a fight on his hands against PP, Nasaf, two other independents, MCP, UDF and DPP candidates.
What about Soldier Lucius Banda in Balaka North who will stand as a UDF MP? His return to parliament will be dramatic after a seven year absence. He has a fight against PP and DPP candidates, plus two others.
Mafunde president George Nnesa will compete against seven other candidates, including PP, DPP and UDF, in Balaka south, where he is the incumbent MP.As presidential candidate of Tisintha Allaince, Nnesa needs to win this seat to show he has some political muscle in Balaka.
UDF presidential candidate Atupele Muluzi is standing as an MP in Machinga north east, a strategy that will definitely see him in parliament should he not make it to Sanjika palace.
Other seats to watch in Machinga where the competition looks fierce with an average of 10 candidates are Machinga central and Machinga Likwenu.
With seven constituencies, will all these go to UDF, the home party of Machinga?
Zomba is the home of incumbent president Joyce Banda, but in its ten constituencies, all the parties have fielded candidates. Most of the candidates are new, but some names to watch are:
MCP secretary general Gustave Kaliwo and Clement Nkwalula (PPM) will be the main contenders in Zomba Changalume.
In Zomba Malosa, the son of JB, Akajuwe Roy Kachale Banda (PP) is standing against UDF, DPP, PPM and UIP. No prizes for guessing who will win here.
Zomba Ntonya will see some epic battle, with former MDC boss Patrick Makina (PP), Ted Salule Masangwi (DPP) among the contestants. UDF, PPM and three independents will join the race.
Also an interesting race will be Zomba central, with Yunus Mussa (DPP), the current MP, fighting it out with PP, PPM, Nasaf, UDF, MCP and two independents. Will PP wrestle the seat from DPP to take advantage of the fact that JB comes from Zomba?
With 14 contestants, Chiradzulu central will be one of the most closely seats on May 20. Why? There are 8 independents. PP’s Geoffrey Bwanali, Friday Jumbe of New Labour Party, who is also a presidential candidate, Hudson Malika (MCP), Mwayi Lancy Mbewe (UDF), the son of ex-minister and MP, Patrick Mbewe and Margaret Asalele Mbilizi (DPP) are among the contestants. Quite a big race, here too.
In Chiradzulu East, will Henry Mussa (DPP) retain the seat against Mafunde, PP, PPM and UDF? And in Chiradzulu West, will Poly lecturer Mathews Ngwale (UDF) make it to parliament for the first time? What about academician Dr. Emmanuel Fabiano (DPP) ?
Will PP’s SG Paul Maulidi make it in Blantyre North among the five contestants: DPP, MCP, CCP and UDF?
Writer Sambalikagwa Mvona (CCP), Steve Mpudi Mijiga (PP), MCP, PPM, DPP, Nasaf and three independents will battle it out in Blantyre rural east. Mvona has competed before, but standing under CCP could be his weakness against the ruling party candidate in terms of resources.
Another big battle is in Blantyre south west where there are five independents, DPP, MCP, UDF and PP candidates as well. But names to watch are independents Gerald Mponda and Elliot Mankhamba Phiri.
Journalist Soviet Kabungwe will stand as an independent in Blantyre city centre, against Chipiliro (PP), the son of Brown Mpinganjira, current MP Eunice Makangala (independent), DPP, MCP and UDF candidates.
Can Nicholas Kachingwe (independent) make a comeback to parliament after so many years in Blantyre west? All the big parties are standing here, with three other independents.
Lawyer Chimwemwe Kalua will stand as an independent in Blantyre Malabada, where he will meet former minister Aaron Sangala (DPP), NLP, MCP, UDF, PP and three other independents.
In Blantyre city south, 14 candidates are in the ring, from DPP, Mafunde, MCP, PP, and UDF to eight independents.
Two big names in Blantyre city east are Noel Masangwi (DPP) and John Bande (PP), the only MP in Blantyre who has served two terms. Will voters want a change for the sake of change, or in their own words “ku Blantyre sitimabwereza MP?”
Blantyre city west will see Tarsisio Gowelo (DPP) trying to retain the seat, against Charles Joshi of UDF, MCP’s Samuel Kaphuka, PP’s Bertha Masiku and independents Reverend Kaliya and Steven Mikaya.
With 9 contestants, Blantyre Kabuli’s fight could be between Jean Kamp hale (PP), independent Abdul Rashid Gaffer, Felix Njawala (independent) and UDF’s Jan-Jaap Sonke. Money will talk here.
Mwanza has only two constituencies, but will Nicholas Dausi (DPP) retain his seat in Mwanza central? His biggest threat could be Aaron Davies Katsonga, who is also standing as president for CCP. PP, UDF and PPM are also standing here. The second constituency is Mwanza west.
Neno has also two constituencies, one of which-Neno south-will be competed by familiar names: Reen Kachere (independent), Patrick Kamkwatira (DPP), Mcdonald Saimon (UDF), Mark Katsonga Phiri (PPM), who is also running as presidential candidate.
If Katsonga does not make it as president, will he make it to parliament?
Thyolo North sees the fight between seven contestants, including independent Phillip Bwanali, DPP’s Edmans Kaduya, PP’s Anita Kalinde, UDF’s Ruth Takomana and Buleki Pinifolo (MCP).
If DPP’s presidential candidate Peter Mutharika does not make it to Kamuzu Palace, he is assured of going to parliament as an MP for Thyolo East, where MCP, PP, UDF and one independent wants to stop Peter.
Outspoken MP Lifred Nawena is an independent candidate in Thyolo Thava, where he has a fight against UDF, PP, Nasaf, MCP and DPP.
Are the following standing on DPP ticket not assured of winning in Phalombe, the home of the party: Phalombe south- John Joswah, Phalombe central-Felton Mulli, Phalombe North-Anna Kachikho, Phalombe east- Ken Lipenga and Phalombe north east-Jones Thamanga?
But they say in politics, anything can happen, as independents, UDF, PP and MCP are also in the race in the above constituencies.
Can the UDF, MCP, PP, Nasaf or an independent candidate win in Mulanje south east against the DPP?
In Mulanje south, an interesting name to watch is comedian Bon Kalindo (DPP) whom I have bet my money on.
Can Brown Mpinganjira make it on PP ticket in Mulanje central? Kondwani Nankhumwa (DPP) is also standing here.
George Chaponda, a pillar of the DPP, is standing in MJ south west, so is loud-mouthed Patricia Kaliati (MJ west) who is likely to be with wife and husband in parliament as her hubby Dishon is standing on the same DDP umbrella in MJ Pasani.
In MJ North ,Yusuf Aufi is the only candidate standing for Maravi Party, the party once headed by Uladi Mussa. But the DPP candidate Stephen Namacha may carry the day, despite opposition from PP, UDF and two independents.
Chikhwawa east and Chikhwawa central are the biggest battlegrounds, what with nine contestants each from PP, DPP, UDF and MCP and a host of independents.
Names to watch in CK central are: Salim Bagus (PP), Malawi’s top football referee exports Bester Kalombo (independent), Bernadetta Mlaka Maliro (independent).
In CK north: former minister Grain Malunga (independent), former
ambassador Agrina Mussa (DPP), musician Joseph Tembo (PP) and veteran politician Harry Thomson (independent).
In CK west, the names to pencil for a showdown are former sports minister Moses Dossi (UDF) and sports administrator John Zingale (PP).
Paul Tony Kandiero, former broadcaster, diplomat and aide to retired president Bakili Muluzi, wants to fight for parley for Nsanje south west under the MCP. The other big parties are also battling for the same seat.
In Nsanje central, former PS for education Sam Safuli (PP) could be the man to watch. While in Nsanje Lalanje, former journalism lecturer Steven Malamba (DPP) thinks he can go back to parliament against the opposition.
Nsanje north will see if Esther Mcheka Chilenje Nkhoma made a good decision to resign as a diplomat in the USA to come back home to contest as an independent.
Let the best candidate win-and losers accept with dignity their defeat.
Check you next week, my dear readers!