Incumbent Lilongwe Mapuyu South legislator Joseph Njobvuyalema has become the first big casualty of the opposition Malawi Congress Party (MCP) primary elections underway to identify candidates to represent the party in the May 21 2019 Tripartite Elections.
Njobvuyalema, who has a been a member of Parliament for the constituency since 1999, lost the primary election to 37-year-old civil society player Edward Chileka-Banda who, ironically, failed in his bid to represent MCP in 2014.
The veteran legislator amassed 320 votes against Chileka-Banda’s 470, according to the results.
Njobvuyalema could not immediately be reached for comment yesterday, but MCP Central Region chairperson Patrick Chilondola and Chileka-Banda confirmed the election results in separate interviews.
Chileka-Banda, who currently works with Action Aid Malawi, said in an interview he was excited to win the primaries and said he was looking forward to the parliamentary race in the MCP-dominated area next year.
He said: “I am so happy to win. This is the will of the people. The election was peaceful and orderly. It is clear this is what the people wanted and my supporters cannot wait to start the campaign.”
Chileka-Banda said he was yet to speak to Njobvuyalema, but expressed interest to work with the veteran politician to develop the area. He also thanked Njobvuyalema for his contributions to the constituency.
The defeat in the primary poll has visibly left Njobvuyalema’s long parliamentary career in jeopardy.
During the first post-independence multiparty general elections in 1994, the constituency had not yet been created. Njobvuyalema has been Lilongwe Mapuyu South legislator since its creation in 1999, having been retained in the 2004, 2009 and 2014 elections.
Besides being a legislator, Njobvuyalema also played a pivotal role in national politics, serving in MCP National Executive Committee (NEC) positions in addition to being Chief Whip, shadow minister of Finance and a member of Parliamentary Service Commission and the Pan African Parliament.
He has also served as MCP director of elections.
MCP has lined up primary elections in various constituencies from Monday, including in all constituencies in Kasungu, Ntchisi North and Mchinji East (on Tuesday), Kasungu South East, Kasungu East and Kasungu North West (on Wednesday).
On Friday, the party will hold primaries in Lilongwe City Centre, Lilongwe City South West, Lilongwe City South East and Lilongwe South West constituencies.
Three weeks ago, MCP faced a challenge from some aspirants who protested the party’s decision to compel them to sign commitment forms that they would not contest as independent candidates in the event that they lost in primaries.