Group village head Mtenje of Blantyre has proposed the institution of legal instruments empowering the electorate to conduct periodic assessments on the performance of their elected leaders.
Mtenje observed last Thursday that the absence of legal provisions giving powers to the voter to evaluate politicians is undermining efforts to consolidate democracy in the country.
He was speaking at an interface meeting the National Initiative for Civic Education (Nice) Trust organised for Lesotho’s Independent Electoral Commission (IEC) delegation to learn the tricks local civic education providers employed to persuade Malawians to cast their ballots in the last year’s tripartite elections.
Lesotho suffered the lowest voter turnout in history — at 46.61 percent — in February 2015, which IEC leader of delegation, Motloi Sekoala, attributed to poor civic and voter education mechanisms.
Sekoala said Malawi is a model in Africa on how to mobilise voters to cast their ballots; hence, the decision by IEC to deploy its team to come and learn how they can avert the situation in 2020.
But Mtenje noted that Nice and Malawi Electoral Commission (MEC) fell short of giving voters powers to measure the performance of their elected leaders, including the president.
He said there is need for MEC to develop an assessment mechanism or model that voters can use to track down elected leaders.
“We feel you’re leaving us in suspense by merely mobilising us to cast our ballots without giving us instruments for tracking down leaders we put in positions.
“Like any well-meaning and profit-minded investor, voters should be given powers to assess the people they put into positions of leadership. This would help us avoid putting wrong people into positions of leadership during elections that follow,” he said.
Mtenje further pleaded with Nice to advocate for the re-enactment of Section 64 (Recall Provision), saying it is the only way Malawians can achieve meaningful development from the elected leaders.
MEC commissioner, Gloria Chingota, said what the chief was asking for was beyond their jurisdiction.
“Unless the law is amended, we’ve no any other mandate except to manage elections,” she said.
Nice district civic education officer for Blantyre Rural, Bowlander Monjeza, said he would present the request [to have debates on the re-enactment of Section 64] to his superiors for consideration. n