Malawians are currently voting in the presidential and parliamentary elections. A group of Malawian bloggers were trained by PenPlusBytes, an International Institute of ICT Journalism in collaboration with New Media Institute to monitor and comment on the elections using blogs, twitter and mobile phones.
Let's take a look at their blogs, which are hosted on The African Elections Portal. The African Elections Portal provides comprehensive election related information on the various countries in Africa.
According to blogger Eric Chilenje, the 2009 elections in Malawi will be heavily contested:
The 2009 General Elections will be one of those elections that appear to be heavily contensted.In the first place, we have seen the former head of state Dr Bakili Muluzi, being stopped by Malawi Electoral Commission from contesting for the third time as president.This was done in accordiance with the Malawi Constitution whiuch stipulates that a presiednt shall only serve two consecutive terms.
One other interesting aspects during the 2009 General Elections is that we have seen United Democtracti Front , a party being being led by Dr Bakili Muluzi forming a ‘coalition’ with Malawi Congress Party of John Tembo.
Norman Fulatira makes a similar observation:
The 2009 Elections in Malawi seem to be the first since the country attained multiparty democracy. The hype that is there perhaps suggests that this time around the contest is high.
I percieve that the 2009 elections in Malawi hangs around the issue of greed among the leaders. None of the leaders is mentioning about an ideology to follow once elected into power save for pressidential independent candidate Mr. James Nyondo.
McDonald Bamusi argues that what the decision of two political parties, UDF and MCP, to support a single candidate has made the race very tight:
This year's general elections in malawi have been one of the most closely contested. This has been the case especially because of the agreement of UDF and MCP to support one candidate in the name of John Zenus Ungapake Tembo.
Michael notes that rural voters will not be taken for granted in this year's elections:
This year's race for Malawi General Elections will be tight. All major political parties are concentrating their campaign in the rural areas. These are the people that are in majority. The rural masses may not be taken for granted this year as they now know and appreciate who the good leader is.
The Civil Society, Media and Religious Institutions are playing a vital role in making sure that the Electorate have the right information concerning the elections. This will help the public to make an informed decision on who to vote for on May 19.
Wesysylas reports that the a Democratic Progressive Party bus was stoned in Machinga Distrtict:
Barely a day after some some nasty scenes occured at a rally organised by united democratict front national chairman Dr Bakili Muluzi at Goliati in Thyolo district, the scenerior wore a new face when a Democratic progressive Party Bus was on Wednsday stoned in machinga District.
The good news is that, according to the Human Rights Consultative Committee, the levels of violence during the 2009 campaign period have decreased compared to the 2004 elections:
Human Rights Consultative Committee (HRCC) has said levels of violence during the 2009 campaign period in preparation for the 19 May general elections have decreased compared to what was experienced in 2004.
The campaign period has ended today at 6 o’clock in the morning. HRCC vice National Coordinator Cecilia Mussa said the development is a clear demonstration that Malawians have realized that power is not a tool to bring personal agenda.
The 2009 elections according to Nicolas Mbonela is one of its kind:
Malawi's fourth coming general election on 19 May 2009 will be of their own kind looking at the political developments that are transpiring in the country.
The political rivals are busy castigating each other just to make sure that they woo support from most illiterate Malawians that form the majority of the country's population and electorate.
Malawi Elections Breaking News reports that property owners in Malawi are demanding money for campaign posters places on their property:
Some small scale property owners in Blantyre are demanding, at least, K500 for political posters placed in their area of business or enterprise, it has been learnt.
The development has prompted some property owners to openly advertise for their places, as one poster at Blantyre Old Town indicated Sunday morning.
One of the places where politicians are said to have paid for a place is at the Curios centre, near Malawi Savings Bank in Blantyre .
One of the curios’ sellers disclosed in an interview the posters now selling themselves at the place were paid for, and that each did cost K500 for the depicted political parties. The posters there include the faces of Bingu wa Mutharika and one for John Tembo, Malawi Congress Party’s torch bearer in the May19 polls.
Jessie Puwapuwa observes that in 1994 Malawians voted in order to get rid of Kamuzu Banda who had ruled Malawi for 30 years:
Election time as it is people cast their votes inorder to put into or remove people from positions.
This is the third time Malawians will be going to polls to choose a leader after their hearts. In 1994 Malawians were eager to go to vote just to get rid of Malawi Cogress Party which had ruled the country for 30 years under what they called ‘Dictatorship of late His Excellency Ngazi Dr. Hastings Kamuzu Banda.’ this was the beginning of democratic dispensation and the United Democratic Party President Dr. Bakili Muluzi was the first leader to be elected and re-elected in 1999.
In 2004 Dr. Bingu Wa Mutharika was elected to this honourable office on a UDF.
In his post titled “Malawi: The Economy, Stupid?,” Mujo writes, “Despite facing a strong alliance of the main opposition leader and a former president, the incumbent is expected to win on the back of an economic boom”:
On May 19, voters in Malawi will go to the polls to elect their next president. The Democratic Progressive Party has been in power for the last four years and is fielding President Bingu wa Mutharika as its candidate once again.
Despite facing a strong alliance of the main opposition leader and a former president, the incumbent is expected to win on the back of an economic boom.
Though critics accuse Mutharika of rigging his way into office, he is credited with helping to improve Malawi’s economy. Since he took over, the country has experienced an average economic growth of 7 percent.
“He inherited a very politically and economically mismanaged legacy … and it was a very tall order to get the country running, to try to get the confidence of very important external players in Malawi,” said Dimpho Motsamai, a political analyst at the Institute for Global Dialogue in South Africa who specializes on Malawi.
“So his vision was one of economic rejuvenation, stricter physical management of economic resources — very prudent management of economic resources — and one that would deal with socio-economic inequalities in Malawi,” she told Reuters Africa Journal.
George Kanyange expects the 2009 elections to be one of the most exciting elections in the history of Malawi:
This year's elections are promising to be the most exciting ever in Malawi. There certain factors that make our elections unique. First is the fact that one of the key political parties contesting in the elections is the ruling party, the Democrartyic Progerssive Party (DPP), that was never ever eleected by the electorate for it to be in power. Another interesting aspect is that the former ruling party, the United Democratic Party (UDF), is not fielding a presidential candiate after its leader, Bakili Muluzi, was rejected by the Electoral Commission, which has forced the party to go into an alliance with another leading positiion, the Malawi Congress Party (MCP) which is also the oldest party in the country.
Media not considered in Party Manifestos, writes Big Up:
All seven presidential candidates, in next week’s general elections, have come under fire, for not incorporating anything tangible, to do with media in their manifestoes.These include, MCP/UDF’s John Tembo, DPP’s Bingu wa Mutharika, Aford’s Dindi Gowa Nyasulu, NARC’s Loveness Gondwe, RP’s Stanley Masauli, PETRA’s Kamuzu Chibambo and Independent James Nyondo.This has since prompted some journalists, to question the country’s political officials, on whether they indeed regard the media, as the fourth estate or not, in line with the constitution.
Will the elections be free and fair? Blogger Arnold Munthali answers:
So much has been said and written about Malawi's 2009 elections. According to some commentators, it will be the most foul, unfree and unfair. And those fears are not without a basis and are too far from the truth.
The voters roll remains a mess days before the elections are held; the opposition is yet to get over its grudge that the government shortchanged it in apoointing commissioners to the Malawi Electoral Commission (MEC); the state broadcasters, Malawi Broadcasting Corporation and Malawi Television, remain largely closed to the opposition and they are heavily manipulated in government's favour; the ruling Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) is using (read abusing) government resources to campaign… With such a situation, can anything ever be right with these elections?