BLANTYRE-(MaraviPost)—Though the road to the just ended by-election in Nkhata Bay Central Constituency was rough for Vuwa Kaunda, unofficial results indicate that the opposition Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) candidate has retained the seat.
Results from 29 polling centres in our possession show Kaunda polled 5,439 votes while his main challenger Raphael Joseph Mhone of the Tonse Alliance’s partner, Peoples’ Party (PP), got 5, 223 votes.
The Malawi Electoral Commission (MEC) is expected to officially announce the results at the National Tally Centre, Kamuzu University of Health Sciences (KUHES) later in the day.
Kaunda won the 2019 parliamentary election but Malawi Supreme Court of Appeal nullified his victory in April this year.
Kaunda’s election was initially sustained by the High Court in September 2019 after his fellow contestant Ralph Mhone had petitioned the court, asking it to declare that he was not duly elected.
Mhone successfully appealed to the Supreme Court which overturned the High Court’s verdict and went ahead to annul the election.
A panel of seven Supreme Court judges who heard Mhone’s appeal found that the High Court’s decision to dismiss the petition was against the weight of evidence presented.
Reads the judgment in part: “It is our judgment that the appeal succeeds. There shall be a fresh election in accordance with section 100(4) of the [Parliamentary and Presidential Elections Act].
“…It is our view that a successful petition restores the people’s right to choose their representative in a free, fair and credible election. We order that each party should bear its own costs, here and below.”
In the 11-page judgment, the Supreme Court further acknowledged that the High Court case it was reviewing was decided before the appeal court’s decision in the presidential election case which put the law on election in its proper perspective.
The appeal judges also faulted the High Court’s verdict in the latest case in several ways including that the presiding judge had erroneously presented himself as a handwriting expert and that “this was most irregular and dangerous”.
Dissatisfied with the Supreme Court’s decision Kaunda went ahead to seek relief from African Court on Human and People’s Rights, saying the nullification of his May 21 2019 victory was erroneous, but he was rebuffed.
Road to Nkhata Bay Central Constituency By-elections
Tonse are liars! We predicted wrongly and we have all missed it. The embattled DPP candidate Vuwa Kaunda was not given chance of progressing to parliament considering that he was battling it out with a candidate who was well resourced by the government machinery.
Ralph Mhone, a candidate from Tonse Alliance’s partner, enjoyed massive support from the nine parties that brutally booted DPP out government in the fresh presidential election in June last year. In a clear demonstration of unity of purpose, all the other eight parties from Tonse Alliance convinced their candidates to withdraw from the race so that Mhone of People’s Party could be given enough support.
UTM, Malawi Congress Party (MCP) withdrew from the race and rallied behind Mhone. Cabinet ministers, senior Tonse Alliance officials stormed the constituency with pomp and much confidence of securing victory. You could imagine how the embattled Vuwa Kaunda felt when he saw UTM vehicles, MCP vehicles and PP vehicles full supporters with one voice: Vote for Ralph Mhone!
However, long at last electorates have spoken. Vuwa has retained his seat and Mhone has been sent to where he rightly belongs.
Interestingly, DPP’s Vuwa Kaunda’s victory comes at a time Malawians are accusing the Tonse Alliance government of cluelessness, tribalism and cronyism in public appointments. It is yet to be seen if the victory stands to be one of the people’s reactions to the “clueless” Tonse Alliance government.