President Bingu Wa Mutharika has vowed
to handsomely win Malawi's upcoming general elections despite the alliance of
two biggest opposition parties aimed to wrestle power away from his Democratic
People's party (DPP). Former President Bakili Muluzi of the opposition United Democratic
Front (UDF) joined forces with the Malawi Congress Party poses (MCP) after the
former president was disqualified as a presidential candidate. Under the
alliance, Muluzi is expected to throw his support behind John Tembo, who is the
presidential candidate of the opposition MCP. But President Mutharika said he
is least perturbed about the alliance vowing to overwhelm the opposition in the
Noel Mbowela is a political science professor at the Malawi
Chancellor College in Zomba. He tells reporter Peter Clottey that the
opposition alliance presents a heavy challenge to President Mutharika in the
"The statement is a
bit controversial and one cannot just take it at face value like that. You will
agree with me that the new coalition that has been formed to fight against the
ruling party, this one of the Malawi Congress Party (MCP and the UDF the two
major opposition parties in the country is quite formidable. I think now the
contest will be very close and we could as well start saying that it is
unpredictable at the moment because the two parties that we are talking about
have got a large following and also in the most populous areas of the country
that is the Southern region and the Central region," Mbowela noted.
He said judging by the
strengths of the two opposition parties, it would be a significant challenge for
the ruling party to beat in the upcoming May 19 general election.
"Looking at these facts,
what we are saying is that it is no prediction at this moment in time who is
going to be the outright winner of the election," he said.
Mbowela said the coalition
could be said to have poked a hole in the latest poll which shows incumbent
President Mutharika winning the election with 60 percent of total votes.
figures that people were quoting could make sense or were valid before the
coalition that we are talking about. I think about a month or so ago, the
president was indeed enjoying popular support. But soon after one of the
aspirants who is the former president was stopped from contesting by the Malawi
Electoral Commission and now looking at this coalition, I think those
statistics have been greatly compromised. I think no one can now safely say
with a lot of confidence that the president is going to enjoy that kind of
support in terms of winning the elections of 60 percent," Mbowela pointed out.
He said the opposition
coalition could undermine the expected strong performance of the ruling party.
"The coalition that we are
talking about is quite massive and no one knows really what the outcome of the
election would be like. You would agree with me that these two opposition
parties have great support in many areas and coming together significantly
improves their chances in the general election," he said.
Mbowela said the coalition
risks implosion if it wins the elections since the two parties are ideologically
"It is very interesting and
maybe we can even say that the future is not as bright as it looks now. The
sharing of power indeed is one of the aspects that would also I think bring
this coalition to a very unpredictable end. Why? Because you see the two
parties that we are talking about have got two different policies. The other
one is conservative and the other I liberal and also despite the differences in
terms of political ideologies, the two parties have been enemies so to speak.
And they have been operating like cats and dogs since the dawn of democratic
dispensation. So, the sharing of power in this case is something that is going
to reopen the kind of fighting and suspicion that has been there between the
two parties," Mbowela noted.
He said the leaders of the
two opposition parties could try to outdo each other if their coalition
wrestles power away from incumbent President Mutharika.
"For sure, one can speculate
here that the former President Bakili Muluzi would want to have a bigger part
in this coalition, but that could bring other troubles as the presidential
candidate of the MCP John Tembo would be the president," he said.
The Malawi Electoral
Commission barred Muluzi from participating in the May 19 election and future
elections after he served two consecutive terms as Malawi's president from 1994
to 2004 before reluctantly handing over to his handpicked successor Bingu Wa
Mutharika. Muluzi tried unsuccessfully to amend the constitution for him to run
for a third term.
Political observers say the alliance between Muluzi's
United Democratic Front and Tembo's Malawi Congress Party poses a challenge to
incumbent President Mutharika, who is heavily tipped to win the presidential
vote against the background of an economic boom during his four-year rule.
Former President Muluzi
vowed to continue to challenge his ban after Malawi's constitutional court
threw out his application challenging an electoral commission decision to bar
him from contesting the presidential election.