With only a few days to go before the close of the voter registration exercise, Malawi Electoral Commission (MEC) has expressed dissatisfaction over the low turnout of voters in Mzuzu City, Likoma and Mzimba districts.
The Malawi Electoral Support Network (Mesn) has since urged stakeholders to scale up sensitisation on the exercise currently taking place in the Northern Region.
The registration exercise for the May 21 2019 Tripartite Elections is currently in the last phase which will winding up on Sunday.
MEC chairperson Jane Ansah, who is also Justice of the Supreme Court of Malawi, said this on Thursday when she visited a number of registration centres in Likoma and Mzuzu City to appreciate how the last phase of registration exercise was going.
She expressed dissatisfaction over the low turnout of registrants, saying so far only 35 percent of the expected number had registered.
Said Ansah: “Registration is not going on as we expected. Numbers are still low with the highest being 35 percent. But we are hopeful that it will rise towards the end because many people wait until the last week. We hope that they will come in the second week.”
Commenting on the reasons people are still turning out in low numbers despite sensitisation initiatives made, the Commission’s chairperson said they suspect some people are registering at newly established centres within the city.
In an interview yesterday, Mesn national coordinator Andrew Kachaso attributed the low turnout of registrants to insufficient sensitisation owing to only a few organisations having the financial muscle to do the work.
He said: “Observations that there is a very low turnout of voters in the last phase are correct. This is what we should expect if people are not well sensitised. People registered in 2014 because they wanted identity cards.
“There are many issues that need to be addressed within the remaining five days. Stakeholders should add more effort to their programmes.”
A visit to four centres in Likoma last week showed that a reasonable number of registrants were turning up for the exercise in the district, while statistics pasted in some centres of Mzuzu City revealed that MEC is likely to fall behind projected figures.
A random visit to some centres in the city showed that Masasa Primary School had registered a total number of 1 302 against the projected figure of 4 865 while Chibavi Primary School registered a total number of 1 448 against the projected number of 5 984.
Other centres such as Mzuzu Stadium registered 1 084 against the projected figure of 3 486, while Ekwendeni Community Day Secondary School registered 601 against the projected figure of 2 945.
But in an interview, Likoma Community Centre supervisor Michael Kanjaya also expressed optimism that the district, which has only eight centres, will meet the projected figure by the end of the registration period on Sunday.
A visit also showed that Fisheries Centre in Likoma had registered about 396 against the projected figure of 1 024, Yofu Primary School registered 395 against 1 113, while Likoma Community Centre registered 604 against projection of 1 395.
Traditional Authority Mkumphira 3 expressed optimism that Likoma is going to meet the projected figure of about 6 800, saying there are enough sensitisation initiatives taking place in the area.
Since the registration exercise began, only Chikwawa and Nsanje districts have registered voters above the projected figures, while the rest of districts have failed to meet the target, according to MEC.