Opposition Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) no longer has majority representation in Parliament after losing six of the seven constituents in which by-elections were held recently, updated electoral statistics show.
The Malawi Electoral Commission (MEC) has recently conducted by-elections in seven constituencies where courts nullified the May 21 2019 elections results and sanctioned fresh polls.
The Tonse Alliance lead partner, Malawi Congress Party (MCP), which has increased its numbers from 55 to 59 seats, now ranks highest, although, like it was with the DPP, does not have the absolute majority to fully push its agenda.
The DPP now has 56 seats, down from 62, after MEC on Tuesday wound up the court-ordered by-elections with the Nkhata Bay Central Constituency vote in which the immmediate-past governing party’s aspirant Symon Vuwa Kaunda retained his seat.
In a response to a questionnaire seeking the National Assembly current official party representation, Parliament’s chief public relations officer Ian Mwenye put the number of independents at 58, an increase from 55 recorded during the May 21 2019 Tripartite Elections.
He said UTM Party currently has five legislators, one seat more from what it achieved two years ago.
Mwenye put the United Democratic Front (UDF) total number at 10 while People’s Party (PP) has four and Alliance for Democracy (Aford) has a single representative.
Other constituencies where courts ordered fresh polls are Mangochi North-East, Mangochi West, Phalombe North-East, Nsanje North, Chikwawa East and Nsanje Central.
DPP won in six of these constituencies during the 2019 polls while one seat—Chikwawa East—went to the UDF and its legislator Sam Khumbanyiwa retained it after the rerun.
Reacting to his party being the biggest in Parliament, MCP spokesperson the Reverend Maurice Munthali attributed the success to its strong foundation.
“MCP has always been a dominant party in terms of its strong historical foundations, established structures across the country and the values it stands for. The party has stood the test of time and all odds to remain strong and unshaken even while in opposition,” he said.
Munthali also stated that the gains the party has made are a vote of confidence in President Lazarus Chakwera who won after the Constitutional Court annulled the 2019 presidential election and ordered a fresh one.
“The increasing numbers in Parliament are evidence of the fact that Malawians are placing their full and unquestionable hope in Dr Chakwera as President of this country. President Chakwera needs numbers in Parliament for his administration’s agenda to be amply driven and achieved as we move towards achieving the Malawi 2063 Vision. We expect the parliamentary numbers to grow even bigger,” he said.
Meanwhile, political analyst Ernest Thindwa has said MCP’s success during the by-elections was a result of their being a lead party in the Tonse Alliance administration.
“When the party is in power, most individuals want to associate with it. You would agree with me that the incumbency is very critical in determining the outcome of the elections. This is why it has been easy for MCP to increase its share in Parliament,” he said.
Thindwa, however, warned MCP not to be overconfident that it will carry the tide to the 2025 Tripartite Elections.
“The party should learn from Nkhata Bay Central by-elections where a DPP candidate won against Ralph Mhone, a candidate backed by nine Tonse Alliance partners. Nothing is assured in our politics,” he added.
Thindwa, a political lecturer at the University of Malawi, also backed DPP, whose spokesperson Brown Mpinganjira was not available for comment, to be the main party rivaling MCP on the country’s political scene.
“The party might not be as popular as it was but it may not be a spent force as many of us want to believe. The retention of Nkhata Bay Central seat is also a clear sign that DPP is still strong,” he said.