The presidential and parliamentary race in Malawi is seeing innovative use of the Internet that Malawi's politics has never witnessed before. Parties and individual contestants have established themselves online through websites, Facebook and blogs to get voters’ attention.
The Malawi Electoral Commission accepted seven presidential candidates and their presence online may be attributed to their new efforts to sell themselves and woo the electorate—some of which is gradually relying more on the Internet in the country. While the political players go digital, Malawi’s Electoral Commission itself does not have a website of its own, causing some bloggers to complain about official website absence.
The Democratic Progressive Party:
New Rainbow Coalition (NARC):
United Democratic Front (UDF):
With no presidential candidate presented to date, the UDF as a party does not have its own website. However, its desired presidential candidate, Malawi’s former president Bakili Muluzi, runs one in his own name bearing party colours. The site's presence online faces attacks from enemies like the blog Anti-Muluzi, which is openly against his candidacy.
Independent Presidential Candidate:
A new comer to the political scene in Malawi, James Nyondo has a personal website.
Malawi Congress Party (MCP):
While what is online seems to leave out some items that the party actually touts in its rallies, the new website seems to be enjoying a good number of visits due to the need for knowledge about the party that claims to have changed. Some commentators (through the print) have described the website as more beautiful than any other on the race.
Young parliamentary candidates like Chikondi Nkhoma in Lilongwe are using the Internet for passing on their manifesto to the electorate. The young candidate is also on Facebook. Dr Cornelius Mwalwanda of Karonga had a running website (in DPP colours) but it appears he shut it down following losses at primary elections.
News portals like Nyasa Times have been described by some as an online tool meant to serve the interests of one political party over others.
While Internet penetration in Malawi is under one percent, this development seems to appeal to a good number of Malawians within and in the Diaspora as they are now able to read and learn more about their candidates.