Tuesday’s by-elections in Zomba Chisi Constituency, Ngala Ward in Lilongwe Msozi North Constituency and Mtope Ward in Mchinji West Constituency were characterised by a low voter turn out.
Reports from Malawi Electoral Commission (MEC) correspondents, The Nation and Malawi News Agency (Mana) journalists on the ground indicated that most polling centres opened around 6am with almost all materials available. However, the voting was marred by poor turn out of voters.
Spot checks by MEC stringer Beaton Makina in some polling centres in Zomba Chisi found that there was low turn out as people are still working in their gardens.
Zomba district commissioner (DC) Bennet Nkasala, speaking in a telephone interview last evening, said the turnout was discouraging in the morning up to 12 noon.
He said in the afternoon there was steady progress in the turnout.
The situation was also the same in Mtope Ward which had 14 polling centres and two contestants—Benedicto Tsele (Democratic Progressive Party-DPP) and Aueriano Kalemba (Malawi Congress Party-MCP).
Mana reporter Sarah Munthali said apart from heavy rains disrupting the voting, apathy was widespread.
About 26 433 voters were expected to vote but by the time centres were closing, only a handful had voted, for instance, at 4:30pm, only 795 people had voted at Chimteka School polling centre where 4 118 people registered to vote.
“We expect to have 1 000 voters by 6pm,” said Mickson Mzonde, a presiding officer at the centre.
Mchinji DC Richard Hara, speaking to The Nation, said the fact that during this time of the year people work in their gardens contributed to the low turn out.
The situation was also the same in some other polling stations in the ward as at Chikomeni School polling centre by 4pm only 193 voted out of 1 346 voters and at Matimba polling centre, registered voters were 2113 but by 4pm only 202 had voted, he said.
Ngala Ward was also not spared the low turnout as a visit by The Nation to two polling centre in the ward where two candidates, Master Rodgers Chazama (MCP) and DPP’s Regina Sululu, were contesting, just about 120 voters had cast their vote by 2pm.
At Nathenje polling centre which had about 3 200 registered, only 52 had cast their vote by 2pm while at Chibubu polling centre, some 10 kilometres away from Nathenje, only 87 had voted out of 1 826 registered voters.
MEC is expected to officially announce the result in the by-elections today afternoon. n
(Additional reporting by SARAH MUNTHALI and BEATON MAKINA)