National Initiative for Civic Education (Nice) Trust has called on election stakeholders to intensify voter education to reduce chances of voter apathy in the forthcoming fresh presidential election.
Balaka District Nice Trust officer Henry Zekaria said in an interview on Wednesday most electoral stakeholders are not conducting civic education which may affect voter turnout.
He said: “Apart from Malawi Electoral Commission [MEC] that helped reaching out to electorates with voter messages during the register updates, we are the only organisation that is conducting sensitisation in the district.”
Malawi Electoral Support Network chairperson Steven Duwa, who is also Council of Non-Governmental Organisations in Malawi (Congoma) executive director, said most institutions in the country do not have resources to help support the electoral process.
He also expressed concern on the lack of observers for the next election, saying: “The courts clearly stated that there were issues on management of elections by MEC. This means you need some teams to observe their conduct during these elections. If none is observing, then we could be heading for another disputed poll.”
But Zekaria urged organisations that are free to conduct voter education to beef up existing ones so that the election messages reach every eligible voter.
He said lack of information on the specific voting date is confusing the electorate, urging the citizenry to use the media as a reliable source of election information.
Said Zekaria: “We are not preparing the voter’s mind and this may have negative effects in terms of voter turnout on the election day.”
Meanwhile, the Public Affairs Committee (PAC) and the CCAP Synod of Livingstonia have called on political parties to prepare their supporters for the presidential election and its outcome, warning that it will be difficult to control people’s anger if the election is not credible.
The synod, in a statement issued on Wednesday co-signed by general secretary the Reverend Levi Nyondo and moderator Douglas Chipofya, said Malawi does not need to witness any more violence as was the case after the nullified May 21 2019 presidential election.
Reads the statement in part: “Let us prepare ourselves for the 2020 presidential election and its aftermath… As we had informed ourselves of the courts’ processes that have been concluded, the remit of the courts in making rulings and the different possible outcomes of those processes, let us also prepare ourselves for the forthcoming presidential election and its aftermath.”
In an interview yesterday, Nyondo further called for proper management of the election to ensure voters are satisfied with the outcome.
He said: “Let people go and vote, manage their votes well. Don’t bring chaos by mismanaging the election, because if that happens, it will be difficult to tell people to remain calm.”
On his part, PAC publicity secretary Bishop Gilford Matonga said there are already some glitches in the management of elections at the Malawi Electoral Commission (MEC), including the lack of a clear voting date and absence of commissioners.
He said: “Our appeal to MEC is that they should learn from their mistakes and do a good job this time.”
MEC director of media and public relations Sangwani Mwafulirwa has since said the electoral body is set to hold a credible election.
He said: “MEC is assuring all stakeholders that it is committed to holding a credible election in a very transparent way.”
Malawi is heading for a fresh presidential poll after both the Constitutional Court on February 3 and Supreme Court of Appeal on May 8 2020 found that the May 21 2019 election had serious irregularities and nullified it. n
—Additional reporting by Joseph Mwale