Political analysts have tipped Malawi Congress Party (MCP) that it has an upper hand to win the May 21 2019 Tripartite Elections after former president Joyce Banda announced on Thursday that she has withdrawn her presidential bid and endorsed opposition frontrunner Lazarus Chakwera of MCP.
PP entourage included Banda's son Roy Kachale, who is also Zomba Malosa legislator, and PP vice-president (Eastern Region), spokesman Ackson Kalaile Banda and Banda's aide Andekuche Chanthunya.
MCP, which governed the country in a one-party dictatorship from 1964 to 1994, also takes along the country's former vice-president Khumbo Kachali - a political kingpin in the populous Mzimba District - and his Freedom Party (FP).
JB, as Banda is widely known by her initials, and her People's Party (PP) garnered just over 1 million votes in the last election, which could be enough to tip the scales in Chakwera's favour based on his level of support in 2014.
Governance expert Henry Chingaipe believes MCP has found itself a winning formula, much as it was already strong before the pact.
"With the MCP and PP alliance working out, and if the DPP-UDF alliance does not work out, then the threat is even bigger to DPP. But I think if the DPP-UDF alliance works out, then it would be a countervailing cushion to reduce the threat that comes with the MCP-PP alliance," said Chingaipe in quotes reported by leading daily newspaper, The Nation.
"I don't think an alliance between DPP and UTM can work out, I also don't think the UDF-UTM can work out. With MCP and PP forging an alliance, it leaves UTM in the cold as I don't think UTM could come as a third party to join an alliance of MCP and PP," he added.
According to Chingaipe, while vice president and UTM presidential candidate Saulos Chilima has mounted a strong campaign for his presidential bid, it is difficult to deduce the type of electorate that would vote for the party as it is new in elections.
On his part, Ernest Thindwa, a political scientist at the University of Malawi's Chancellor College, also hailed the MCP-PP partnership, saying the MCP needs to ensure that it seals the deal as it works more to its advantage.
"These elections are likely to be very close, the margin of victory will be very slim and any extra vote to any party is significant. If MCP and PP were to support one candidate, then
MCP will have struck a good deal because they have the potential to win the election and if they can acquire extra vote, that will be significant," the leading daily quoted him as saying.
Thindwa is on record as having warned that any party which touts itself to be strong enough to go it alone will be taking a risky path.
DPP is in an electoral alliance with tiny party Depeco of evangelist Chris Daza.
Banda, who served as president between 2012 and 2014 and reiterated her wish for opposition parties to form an electoral alliance to unseat DPP, had been set to run for the role again in elections in May.
"Malawi is bigger than individuals," a joint statement from Chakwera's MCP and Banda's PP said.
"As such we all have to set aside individual aspirations and embrace the greater and common good."
About 6.59 million voters are expected to vote this year, with over half of the eligible voters being youths and women.
MCP says it intends to build a new Malawi on the foundations of a democratic State powered by the Chakwera Super Hi 5.
In his Hi5, Chakwera is committing prospering together, ending corruption, upholding the rule of law, servant leadership and uniting Malawi.