At least 13 aspirants have obtained presidential nomination papers from the Malawi Electoral Commission (MEC) as the battle for the May 21 State presidency gets another gear.
The 13 presidential aspirants collected their nomination papers as political experts say the battle remains amongst Democratic Progressive Party (DPP)'s Peter Mutharika, main opposition Malawi Congress Party (MCP)'s Lazarus Chakwera, UTM's Saulos Chilima, Atupele Muluzi of United Democratic Front (UDF) and former president Joyce Banda (People's Party -PP).
Others who have collected the nomination forms include former vice-president Dr Cassim Chilumpha of Tikonze Peoples Movement (TPM); Chimbuna Belekiah, United Independence Party (UIP); Dr Chris Daza of the Democratic Peoples Congress (DEPECO) and Peter Kuwani of Mbakuwaku Movement for Development (MMD).
The independent presidential candidates are Dr Henry Jailos Mbewe, Smart Swira, Pastor Dr Baxter Boyd Natulu and Ras Chikomeni David Chirwa.
University of Malawi political scientist Ernest Thindwa said no presidential candidate will win by over 35 per cent.
"No one will win by over 35 per cent. This will be a disaster for our democracy," said Thindwa.
He said as the situation is as of now, the winner will be declared after amassing a slender vote of 35 per cent and below.
The DPP led government rejected an opposition sponsored bill which would have forced candidates to go for a rerun if they amassed less that 50 per cent of the vote cast.
MEC started the process of presenting nomination papers to aspiring candidates for the presidency, Member of Parliament and Local Government from January 3 and the candidates are expected to submit the papers from February 4-8.
All presidential candidates, party or independent are collecting their nomination papers from the Chief Elections Officer at MEC head office and for all aspiring for a seat in the august House and will contest on political party tickets, are getting their nomination papers through their party Secretaries General or any officer designated to do so.
All independent candidates for Parliamentary elections are collecting theirs from their respective Constituency Returning Officers (CROs), District Commissioners or Chief Executives.
Parliamentary and Local Government candidates will submit their
papers to their respective Constituency Returning Officers while presidential candidates will submit their nomination papers to the Malawi Electoral Commission at the Chichiri International Conference Centre (COMESA) Hall.
MEC also stressed that every candidate is encouraged to take their nomination papers for pre-inspection from the day they collect the papers up to the time before presenting the nomination papers.
According to MEC nomination fees, male aspiring members of Parliament (MPs) will pay K500 000, female MPs K250 000, youth (less than 35 years) K375 000 and candidates with disabilities K250 000.
In the local government elections, male candidates will pay K40 000, females K20 000, youth K30 000 and those with disabilities K20 000. All these fees are non-refundable.