UTM members on Tuesday showed support for independent parliamentary aspirant for Chikwawa East Constituency Phoebe Mtembenuzenu when she was presenting her nomination letters for the upcoming by-elections.
The supporters who were clad in UTM party cloth and carried the party’s flag were chanting songs of praise for the independent candidate.
The development surprised MEC officials who were presiding over the ceremony as earlier in the day they had already received letters from a UTM candidate for the area, Fyson Duncan Mainjeni.
However, when presenting her letters Mtembenuzenu maintained she is competing in the by elections as an independent candidate.
Mtembenuzenu who was also wearing a UTM piece of cloth herself told reporters during an interview that as an independent candidate she is working with every person in the constituency despite their party affiliation hence she found nothing wrong with UTM supporters escorting her when she was presenting her papers.
“Let people not be confused. I am an independent candidate. These people are following me not because I belong to their party but because they believe I am going to develop this area.
“I therefore call upon people in this constituency to vote for me in the upcoming by elections without considering whether I belong to their party or not,” said Mtembenuzenu adding that the area has never had a female MP before hence people in the area ought to give her a chance.
There has not been an immediate comment from UTM party authorities on the matter but the party’s candidate for the area Fyson Duncan Mainjeni claimed that some UTM leaders in the constituency have been campaigning for Phoebe Mtembenuzenu even though she is an independent candidate a development which he said has brought confusion among party supporters.
The Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) has also not been spared of the phenomenon as the Party’s candidate for the area Ginford Maulidi has also complained that some DPP leaders have been campaigning for an independent candidate for the area, Finason Brown Thenguro.
During the nomination presentation ceremony, People’s Party Candidate for the area Harrison Phiri announced his withdrawal from the race in order to give support to his Tonse alliance partner, Foster Thipiwa of MCP.
So far, seven candidates have confirmed their participation in the 30th March by-election in Chikwawa East constituency out of nine candidates who contested in the court’s annulled 2019 tripartite elections.
The Malawi Electoral Commission(MEC) was on 8th March receiving nomination letters from aspiring candidates from Karonga North west, Ntchisi North, Lilongwe Msinja south, and Zomba Changalume constituencies and also Liviridzi ward in Balaka and Chitakale ward in Mulanje.
In Chikwawa East, Nsanje North and Nsanje Central constituencies, however, the electoral body was only getting letters from the same candidates who contested in the 2019 tripartite elections, confirming their interest to participate in the upcoming by-elections as per the direction of the court.
The candidates who contested in the elections but are no longer interested to compete in the by-elections were also required to notify the electoral body through writing.