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Malawi’s IPOR survey vindicated; research fellow Witness Alfonso urges politicians to heed researchers’ work

Alfonso: It is a relief

BLANTYRE-(MaraviPost)—Malawi’s pollster Institute of Public Opinion & Research (IPOR) will breathe a sigh a relief at the fresh presidential election results, with most district tally centres’ results correctly predicting a large win for the opposition candidate, Lazarus Chakwera of the Malawi Congress Party (MCP).

In the run up to the court-sanctioned election, IPOR conducted a survey and its findings indicated a large win for Tonse Alliance torchbearer Dr. Lazarus Chakwera and his running mate Dr. Saulos Chilima in the fresh presidential election held on Tuesday.

According to the survey findings, 51 percent of respondents said they will vote for the Tonse Alliance leadership while 33 percent said will go for Mutharika while 10 percent of the respondents were undecided.

The survey, however, was dismissed by a leading academician and statistician Dr. Jimmy Namangale at Chancellor College, a constituent college of the University of Malawi, as his analysis of the findings indicated a narrow win for incumbent president Peter Mutharika.

But Namangale’s ‘hallucinations’ have been put to bed as unofficial results of the much touted election indicate a landslide victory for Lazarus Chakwera, thereby vindicating the IPOR findings.

In an interview with MaraviPost, research fellow Witness Alfonso could not hide his delight after Malawians unanimously exonerated their research findings on Tuesday by voting in line with what IPOR found on the ground.

Alfonso said the results are a relief to the research institution and at the same time a bitter pill to swallow to all those who fiercely criticized their objective findings.

“It is a good feeling but at the same time a relief and a true reflection of how objective we are as IPOR and researchers in general . This is especially taking note of the fact that some people paraded in the media were doubting and trashing the results. But its now great that Malawians have vindicated our work, I am sure they are feeling ashamed somewhere. We owe it to our dedicated field staff that went far and near all corners of Malawi and collected this quality data and Malawians who participated in our study and shared with us their true opinions,” Alfonso said amid chuckles of unfeigned delight.

Alfonso further advised politicians to  take heed of advice from researchers as they are the ones who interact objectively with the citizens.

“Well, I can say Malawians have entrusted the Tonse Alliance with the mandate to run this country but they are also expecting a lot from them. As a researcher, I can only advise the new government to take some advice from the work of researchers who interact objectively with the citizens and act as a medium to relay the problems, needs and expectations of the people.

“ As such, it will be important for the new government to make use of different reports that researchers produce in this country even funding such initiatives for them to get feedback from the citizens and prioritize based on what Malawians say. As researchers and IPOR this is our work and we will continue conducting surveys and how much they do not agree with the findings they need to seriously reflect on them,” he said.

Alfonso at the main tally centre in Blantyre.

A re-run of the May 2019 election was ordered by Malawi’s Constitutional Court in February after judges found widespread irregularities with the original ballot.

That election saw President Mutharika narrowly re-elected by less than 159,000 votes with a 38.6% share of the vote. Chakwera came second with 35.4%.

Chakwera and Saulos Chilima who came third in the election argued that the election had not been fair.

Their complaints included allegations that vote tallying forms had been added up incorrectly and tampered with using correction fluid – known in Malawi by its brand name Tipp-Ex.

Uncertainty around the result sparked months of tension and protests, which spilled over into clashes between opposition supporters and police across the country.

February’s decision to annul the election led some to celebrate, but Mutharika described it as a “serious subversion of justice” which marked the death of the country’s democracy.

Last month, Malawi’s former electoral commission chair Jane Ansah resigned following months of pressure by protesters who criticised her handling of the poll.

The new vote comes at a time of growing tension between the government and the country’s courts.

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