By Serah Makondetsa:
In separate interviews, Malawi Congress Party (MCP), United Democratic Front (UDF) and People’s Party (PP) complained that the last-minute withdrawal by the organisation affected the female aspiring candidates.
However, 50:50 Management Agency Campaign Manager Viwemi Chavura dismissed the claims clarifying that the organisation said it will refund to aspiring candidates upon evidence of payment after the primary elections.
“There was no statement or document that says that we are paying. The statement from the principal’s office says we will pay as refunds because of the process of primary elections.
“As we speak right now, no party has submitted a list of aspiring candidates that have submitted their papers. As we speak, we do not even have a list of how many aspiring women are contesting. As a programmer, we are supposed to plan,” he said.
Chavura said political parties are not organised.
“No party has come to us with a list of names of candidates since receiving these letters on 19th January, even independent candidates. What we have realised is that the organisation in parties is not what we think happens.
“They are not organised as we would want them to be. The commitment we made was that we will refund the money after primary elections. The communication is we are paying based on evidence that they have given nomination papers and, as we talk, we do not have any information of that sort,” Chavura said.
“This negatively affected our female aspiring candidates because the 50:50 campaign is meant to be achieved by all stakeholders, the political parties and the 50:50 chapter itself.
“The fact that they had to pull out of the support they pledged, it meant most political parties including MCP did not have the sole ability to make sure that this campaign works. It is very unfortunate that they had to do that. The 50:50 campaign was not meant to just be a show, it is supposed to empower our women who can contribute to our development,” he said.
UDF publicity secretary Ken Ndanga said the development negatively affected the party, particularly the women who could not afford on their own.
“The development created panic among female aspiring candidates and we believe that, instead of promoting the 50:50 campaign, that last-minute withdrawal when all along female candidates were promised that the organisation will pay for them was frustrating.
“They say they should pay and they will be refunded and yet initially the logic behind it was these women cannot afford, so the idea of refund does not make sense,” he said.
PP publicity secretary Ackson Kalaile Banda concurred with the other parties saying this inconvenienced the aspiring female candidates.
“At the eleventh hour, we were told that the party can go ahead and pay for the female aspirants and later they will be refunded. We were affected because we had the expectation that the 50:50 campaign was going to handle the fees for the women because, as a party, we were focusing on sourcing funds for the male aspiring candidates who would not manage to pay for themselves,” Banda said.
Meanwhile, the 50:50 Management Agency announced last year in September that it will cover nomination fees for all aspiring women with disabilities contesting for positions of Member of Parliament and ward councillor.