KARONGA (MEC Stringer)-It was a busy weekend for political party leaders and candidates who over the weekend held over 60 political campaign rallies to sell their manifestos to the 53, 000 eligible electorates in Karonga Northwest Constituency ahead of the March 30 by-election.
In an interview, the Malawi Congress Party (MCP) team leader who is also deputy national director of elections Alfred Mwenifumbo said over 25 political rallies were lined across the constituency to sell the candidate’s development plans for the area.
He said: “Our campaign strategy is weaved to reach everyone for them to make an informed choice on the polling day. During the week, Symon and Kendal crisscrossed the area with campaign songs that are also entertaining.
“We are telling people to vote for Daniel Mwanyongo Chitonya who is exposed to development partners and is determined to bring portable water, transform the road network and increase accessibility of health care by constructing more health centres and turn rice and cotton farming into business”.
United Democratic Front (UDF) candidate Bone Mwenindeka Kasunga held three rallies and two whistle stop tours where he promised to turn the lakeshore district into a tourist attraction town by improving the district’s streets, markets, roads and the drainage system.
“The infrastructures that UDF brought from 1994 are in dilapidated state. One elected, I will restore the lost glory and make Karonga a Tourism Town,” he said.
On his part after conducting 12 political rallies, Alliance for Democracy (AFORD) national director of elections David Katete said his party is convinced beyond measures that come March 30, they will claim the seat that fell vacant after the demise of its Democratic Progressive party (DPP) Parliamentarian James Kamwambi who succumbed to covid 19 last month.
He said AFORD candidate Fwasani Silungwe is the only hope for the area, saying he has vast experience in social and community work having worked with various development institutions for over 27 years.
He said: “We are making progress and we are not intimidated by other political parties who are also in this game. We have brought in the competition that some politicians have resorted to issuing handouts to induce voters. But we will carry the day and give the constituents development”.
DPP’s deputy regional governor for the North said the 16 campaign rallies they conducted are enough measuring yard stick that have given them hope to reclaim the seat on March 30.
“The competition is stiff but we are playing our game tactically to reclaim the seat. Trustings Lusubilo Kamwambi is the suitable candidate who will continue with development work his brother left,” he said.
The busy schedule did not spare the UTM Party camp which according to its regional secretary for the North Jane Mbale said had 15 whistle stop tours on Saturday before a mega rally at Baka school ground on Sunday where top on the agenda was to sell Felix Katwaff Kaira as their candidate.
Independent candidate Harry Mwanyembe, former Councillor for Rukulu Ward who managed to conduct 15 rallies where he challenged electorates that he will use his vast experience as a Councillor to bring electricity and water.
“The message to our supporters is about development UTM candidate will bring. We are also preaching about peaceful and violent free campaign,” she said.
However, some voters have expressed discontent over promises that politicians make during expensive campaigns which their candidates fail to implement once elected, saying it is high time politicians walked the talk by implementing what they promise during campaign.
Zuma Mwalughali of Malema 2 villages says what voters are no interested in voting due to too many unfulfilled promises which politicians make during campaign but fail to implement once elected.
“The irony part of it that these politicians bring during campaign leave a lot to be desired. Karonga Northwest is the hub of the district and if anything was supposed to boast various developments befitting its lakeshore and border district status that include good road infrastructure,” he said.
Another voter, Lumbani Kamanga from Mwafilaso village lamented how women in the district struggle to get portable water, saying most people drink from unprotected sources yet the lake is at stone’s away distance.
“Women are finding life tough. We want developments such as water, health centres that will curb maternal deaths due to long distances that women cover to access both antenatal and postnatal services,” she said.
A renowned Blantyre based political commentator Sheriff Kayisi shares similar concerns, saying issues to do with elections dwell much on contractual agreement between voters and those aspiring for positions which need to be fulfilled at all cost.
“The voters have genuine concerns. The relationship between voters and candidates should not end after voting. It has to be sustained through implementation of social amenities because it is the constitutional right of every voter to access development from government’s LDF, CDF and DDF through elected leaders,” he said.
Karonga Diocese Desk Officer Louis Nkhata whose institutions is instrumental in facilitating and initiating various social development in the district echoes similar views, saying voters deserve the best out of elected leaders to inspire them.
He narrated: “The question would be where these political parties get money for expensive campaigns from. Then we should come to issues of who is responsible for development after the campaign. Candidates are just vehicles to carry government development for the air constituents through development funds.
“What is needed is just for those elected leaders to rise above partisan politics to bring tangible developments to restore peoples’ hope”.
Voters are inspired by developments that elected leaders bring to their constituents. And if these politicians just make noise without giving voters portable water, roads, school blocks and reachable health services, they (voters) have genuine reasons to brand politicians as liars”.