Some traditional leaders in Nsanje Lalanje, one of the area where the October 2017 by-elections will take place, this week revealed threats they are receiving from the ruling Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) and some government officials, especially in the on-going electoral camping.
The development was revealed by on Friday during a political debate for the parliamentary candidates that was organised by the National Initiative for Civic Education (NICE) Trust at Bangula Primary School ground in the district.
Speaking on condition of anonymity after the debate, some traditional leaders said they are being intimidated by government and DPP officials to stop attending meetings organised by opposition parties, if they don’t want to loose their positions.
The concerned chiefs also revealed that they are instructed to persuade their subjects to vote for the DPP candidate.
“We are being ordered not to welcome opposition candidates if they come to our jurisdictions; and that if we host them the officials would dethrone us,” they said.
While failing to deny or accept the allegation, GVH Anyalandiwo, who represented Traditional Authority (T/A) Mbenje at the event, asked the concerned chiefs to lodge their complaints to their seniors.
Malawi Electoral Commission (MEC) chairperson Jane Ansah, who was present at the event, said the Commission has also not received any complaint regarding the issue.
“We want people to vote freely and choose a person of their own choice. Chiefs should not take sides but allow all candidates to campaign freely. As regards the issue, we deal with complaints when they have been lodged but that complaint has not reached us,” she said.
Reacting to the development, government spokesperson, Nicholas Dausi denied the allegations while describing it as incorrect and misleading.
Meanwhile, NICE Trust civic education officer for Nsanje district Kondwani Malunga condemned the reports, saying the development was not in tandem with democratic principles and values.
Nsanje-Lalanje by-election has three contestants namely Gladys Ganda of DPP, Lawrence Sitolo for the Malawi Congress Party (MCP) and Winnie Wakudyanaye standing on an independent ticket.
The constituency fell vacant following the death of the then member of Parliament (MP) Sam Ganda on May 16 2017.