Presidential hopefuls ignore expectations

If a study that Insitute of Public Opinion Research (Ipor) is anything to go by, the visions as expounded by presidential aspirants during presentation of nomination papers had little thought for Malawians.

Nation on Sunday’s analysis of speeches aspirants made after presenting their papers to Malawi Electroral Commission (MEC) officials at Comesa Hall in Blantyre revealed that nearly all of them missed out on people’s topmost expectations, food security.

Mutharika holds his certificate of nomination with a promise to empower farmers

According to the Ipor survey conducted between August and September last year to assess the political environment in Malawi ahead of the May elections, food security was considered to be the most important national problem.

Thus, Malawians’ anticipation was that as various presidential contenders present their nomination papers, they would put food security as top priority during their short speeches.

Focused on servant leadership: Chakwera (L)

This is despite the fact that they have not, yet, released their respective manifestos.

The survey, issued in October 2018, was led by renowned University of Malawi researchers Blessings Chinsinga, Boniface Dulani, Joseph Chunga and Mwayi Masumbu with support from Centre for Multiparty Democracy (CMD).

Out of the 10 presidential hopefuls, we analysed speeches of five candidates considered to be front runners.

These are incumbent President Peter Mutharika of Democratic Progressive Party (DPP), Lazarus Chakwera of Malawi Congress Party (MCP), UTM Party’s Saulos Chilima, Joyce Banda of People’s Party (PP) and Atupele Muluzi of United Democratic Front (UDF).

In his speech on Friday, the nearest Mutharika touched on food security was when he said he looked forward to five more years of “empowering our farmers.”

Chakwera, in outlining his promises of solving problems facing Malawians as prescribed in his super high five development strategy, did not directly say anything on food security.

His strategy is premised on servant leadership, prospering together, cracking down on corruption, respecting the rule of law and promoting national unity.

Perhaps it was only Banda, who stated in her speech that she would transform Malawi by among others, emphasising on food security.

While stressing that time has come for the youthful leaders to take over the reins of power, Chilima also fell short of focusing on food security.

Muluzi’s speech was equally a disappointment. He only focused on strong State security systems to protect citizens and promote tolerance.

This, according to Zomba-based first-time voter Tendai Kandulu, 19, is an indictment that politicians who want to lead the country have no interests of a common man.

She said: “This clearly shows they want to get into government to fatten their pockets. If they can disregard the expectations of the voters, whose interests would they pursue? This is worrying to young people like me because ultimately, I will not appreciate the value of voting.”

The results of the survey also showed DPP was likely to win the 2019 elections with a stronger base in the Southern Region, followed by MCP in the Central Region and then UTM.

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