Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) parliamentary candidates did not show up for debates in Chikwawa this week, continuing the trend set by the party’s presidential candidate and his running mate.
The National Initiative for Civic Education (NICE) Trust in Chikwawa this week started conducting debates in all constituency in the district where it transpired that no DPP candidate showed up for the debates in the two constituencies in which the debates have been conducted so far.
In Chikwawa Nkombedzi constituency all the seven candidates who are competing from the opposition MCP, UTM, UDF and other independent candidates showed up for the debate except DPP candidate for the area Ben Khuleya.
However, Ben Khuleya denied being restrained by his party to shun the debate saying he thought it wise to withdraw from the debate to avoid confrontations that may arise among their supporters.
In Chikwawa Central Constituency on Wednesday, only candidates from the opposition MCP, UTM and UDF showed up for the debate. DPP candidate for the area Samuel Office shunned the debate.
Office denied receiving a directive from the party to shun the debate saying he did so due to his busy schedule.
Efforts to get the party’s stand on whether its candidates are allowed to partake in the debate when it’s presidential candidate who is also the current president Peter Mutharika and his running mate Honourable Chimulirenji did not participate in debates proved futile as the DPP spokesperson Honourable Nicholas Dausi said he could not speak when called for an interview as he was busy.
On his part, NICE District Civic Education Officer for Chikwawa Josephy Chamambala said he was surprised that no DPP candidate showed up for debates in the two constituencies despite being duly invited to attend the debates.
Chamambala added that it is the candidate themselves who are missing the opportunity to convince the electorates on what they intend to do once they are elected by not showing up in the debates.
He continued by saying that he hoped that other DPP candidates in other remaining constituencies might attend the debates as he has received confirmation from DPP candidate for Chikwawa North Constituency that he will partake in the debate scheduled for this coming Friday.
Apart from participating in the debates ahead of next month’s elections, NICE is also using the public debates as a platform on which aspiring MPS and ward councillors are signing social contact agreements to fulfil or the electoral promises once elected.
DPP Secretary General Grezelder Jeffrey issued a circular week ago saying the party has resolved that its president and runningmate shall not partake in the debates as the party has no trust in the organisers of the debates.
The circular however did not specify that parliamentary aspirants ward councillors are also not allowed to partake in the debates at the district level.