By Paul Ndiho and Lameck Masina

Voters in Malawi head to the polls on May 21st.  Political observers are predicting a tight battle for the presidency between incumbent Peter Mutharika and several top opposition candidates. Malawi vice president Saulos Chilima -1

Campaigning in Malawi’s upcoming election is entering its final stages as voters prepare to elect a president, members of parliament and local councilors.

President Peter Mutharika, of the Democratic Progressive Party, has told thousands of his supporters that he will continue to act on his election promises, convincing his backers that he will emerge from the poll the winner in a landslide.

But allegations of corruption continue to hover over his campaign.  The government denies the accusations — and Mutharika’s supporters appear to be unmoved by the corruption claims.

“I just want him to continue from where he started because he has been building a lot of infrastructures, encouraging people in terms of education, helping some people’s careers, yeah, so I am expecting much from him.”

One of President Mutharika’s top rivals in this election is Lazarus Chakwera, of the Malawi Congress Party.  Chakwera, claims Mutharika is failing Malawi’s citizens.  More that 50 percent of the country’s 18 million people are living below the poverty line, unemployment is rampant — life expectancy is low — and the infant mortality rate is high.  An estimated one-million Malawians are living with HIV and over 770-thousand children are orphaned, many due to AIDS, according to USAID.  But Mutharika’s supporters say they sticking by their man.

“I am going to vote for Lazarus Chakwera [leader of opposition Malawi Congress Party, or MCP] because his manifesto is good for me.””I am supporting MCP, but I feel that the voted were being rigged already. So if MEC is serious about producing good results that people will indeed vote for change.”

Vice President Saulos Chilima is hoping to win power as head of a new opposition party, the United Transformation Movement.  Political analysts say Chilima is seen as the biggest threat to both Mutharika and Chakwera.   Chilima has a large following of young people who want change from the current administration.

“I think Mr. Saulos Chilima will win and the reason behind this is according to statistics 60 percent of the people who are going to vote are the youths. Now, most of the youths want Dr. Chilima.
“We have had a lot of politicians who were cheating us. And I see I have to vote for those who are giving me hope so that they should develop our country.”

Many Malawians remain undecided for whom to vote as president… Zainabu Mangani is one of them.

“Malawi will remain the same because these politicians are selfish! What can I say? Because they are all the same what they know is to feed their stomach they are not even concerned about our lives they are not even concerned about our welfare. So I don’t want to vote for those people.”
Voter turnout may be the key to winning the presidential poll and the real impact of this election will only be known once the ballots are counted.


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