Voting took place in Lilongwe South Constituency yesterday amid low turnout of voters.
There were 32 400 registered voters but visits to polling centres by The Nation revealed that most of them did not turn up to cast their ballot.
For example, only 900 voted out of 2 450 registered at Malingunde Primary School, while at Phirilanjuzi Primary School, 2 543 people registered, but two hours to time, less than 1 000 had voted.
The situation was the same at Sinyala Polling Centre, where only 295 had voted out of 494 registered as the polling closed.
Malawi Electoral Commission (MEC) commissioner Killion Mgawi had in the morning expressed hope for a high turnout.
He said: “Looking at how things are now, we hope more people are coming to vote. We distributed all the necessary materials in all centres. We hope the process is going to be fine.”
Most presiding officers acknowledged that there was a low turnout, MEC supplied enough materials and that there were no challenges in the voting process.
Meanwhile, Catholic Commission for Justice and Peace (CCJP) national coordinator Boniface Chibwana has expressed dismay with the low voter turn-out, saying elections stakeholders need to do more on the matter to reduce voter apathy.
He said: “So far, we can say that everything is going on well, but what is worrying is that people are not coming out to vote. This is an opportunity for the people to exercise their right to choose a leader. Something needs to be done to change this.”
While, most presiding officers feigned ignorance on what could be the reason for the low turnout.
National Initiative for Civic Education (Nice) official Daniel Malango, who was involved in elections civic education, noted that most of the 26 centres experienced low turnout of voters.
He said there is need to conduct deeper investigations on why people did not turn out to vote despite calling on MEC to hold the by-elections.
In October 2019, people in Masambankhunda community in the constituency challenged MEC commissioner Moffat Banda to convince them why they should vote in the by-election when the electoral body’s credibility to manage elections was being questioned.
MEC has been facing pressure exerted by the Human Rights Defenders Coalition, who were demanding the resignation of MEC chairperson Justice Jane Ansah for allegedly presiding over a fraudulent election.
Five candidates, namely Malawi Congress Party’s Peter Dimba, Democratic Progressive Party’s Frank Mazizi, Mbakuwaku Movement Party’s Julius Chombwe and independents Samson Phinifolo and Patson Kachingwe contested in the poll whose results are expected today.
Voting in the constituency did not take place in the May 21 2019 Tripartite Elections because of the death of the UTM Party candidate Agnes Penemulungu earlier. UTM Party did not field a candidate this time.