DPP’s Ben Phiri shun debate in Thyolo Central

Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) aspirant in Thyolo Central Constituency Ben Phiri on Tuesday shunned a debate in the area.

United Democratic Front (UDF) and Malawi Congress Party (MCP) aspirants Milward Jere and Jeannet Chikoko respectively as well as Independent candidate, Kingsley Wataya, also failed  to show up for the debate.

Kamboyi (L) and Muyaya (R) after the debate

National Initiative for Civic Education (Nice) Trust organised the parliamentary debate at Khonjeni Youth Centre Ground as a platform for six candidates in the area to articulate their manifestos to electorates before the polls on May 21.

Umodzi Party’s (UP) Peter Muyaya and United Transformation Movement’s (UTM) Isaac Kamboyi honoured the public trust’s invitation and participated in the debate.

Commenting on the development, Thyolo NICE district civic education officer, Moses Kaunda, expressed worry saying the absence of the aspirants deprived voters of a chance to appreciate their manifestos.

“We invited all six aspirants to the debate, but only two has showed up. It is unfortunate that others decided to shun this crucial platform in as far as good governance is concerned. They have denied voters a chance to understand their manifestos because campaign rallies cannot bring them closer to the people like this initiative,” he said.

In a phone interview, Phiri said he was not aware of the debate.

“I am hearing it from you for the first time. Give me the number of the organisers because they cannot operate in a way to give one opportunity over the other,” he said.

UDF’s Jere said he was told the debate is on Wednesday (May 1), not Tuesday.

On her part, MCP’s Chikoko said she did not turn up as it coincided with Lazarus Chakwera’s rally at Mangunda in the district.

While efforts to get Wataya’s side proved futile as he did not answer his phone after several calls.

But Thyolo Central Constituency returning officer, Batumeyo Phiri, concurred with Kaunda saying every aspirant was well informed of the initiative in time.

During the debate, Muyaya and Kamboyi both centred on improving agriculture, health service and infrastructure, including youth and women empowerment activities.

Story by Temwa Mhone

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