As Malawi draws closer to the 2014 tripartite elections, voters have made demands on government and other electoral stakeholders to ensure smooth, free and fair elections.
The demands were made during a media tour organised by the Malawi Electoral Support Network (Mesn) in all the three geographic regions of the country.
The media tour was prompted by the passing of the Tripartite Elections Bill in the National Assembly last November. Mesn wanted to find out the electorate’s expectations from various stakeholders in the run up to the elections.
In the South, the media interfaced with voters in Blantyre, Chiradzulu, Zomba, Machinga, Balaka. In the Central Region, they went to Lilongwe, Dowa and Kasungu whereas in the North, they spoke to voters in Rumphi and Mzuzu.
“We ask government not to rig elections. We also want government to provide adequate funds for the tripartite elections and provide them in good time. Government should also allow other political parties access to MBC [Malawi Broadcasting Corporation],” said Peter Amidu at Mbulumbudzi Market in Chiradzulu.
Most interviewees also spoke on the need for an independence of the Electoral Commission (EC).
EC was also asked to be transparent in its programmes, engage all stakeholders, procure adequate materials and produce electoral material for civic education in good time.
According to a Mesn report on the media tour, most interviewees also condemned the tendency by some political parties to impose candidates on the electorate. The report further says most voters want political parties to come up with feasible manifestoes in good time.
“Political parties are also urged to conduct peaceful and clean campaign; ensure intra-party democracy; have adequate monitors; conduct conventions and primary elections before the tripartite elections and help with civic education,” reads the report.
Mesn coordinator Robert Silungwe said the report reflected the views voters have on the ground. He said Mesn noted that there is need for “serious” civic education, saying most women expressed ignorance of political issues in the country.
Government spokesperson Moses Kunkuyu is on record as having said that government is committed to holding free and fair tripartite elections.