The Malawi Electoral Commission (Mec) has underscored the need for all sectors of society including persons living with various forms of disabilities to participate in electoral processes to ensure and enhance credibility of the results.
Mec chairperson Justice Maxon Mbendera was speaking in Blantyre on Monday when he officially opened a five-day Building Resource In Democratic Governance and Elections (Bridge) Training on Access and Contestants modules for members from various disability organisations and Mec strategic staff.
Mbendera said among other things, credibility of any election depends on how various groups access the electoral process.
“Mec believes in an inclusive and consultative approach in the implementation of all activities leading to an election. We have made some strides to incorporate people living with disabilities by having sign language interpretation and providing captioning in all the messages put on television.
“Electoral messages have also been printed in Braille and distributed to those with visual impairments,” he said.
However, Mbendera bemoaned lack of capacity to use the equipment or execute disability friendly services during elections by some officials.
“It is unfortunate that some presiding officers never used the tactile ballot templates we provided during polling on May 20, 2014 due to lack of training.
“This is why we have now included a component in our training on the use of tactile ballot papers for all presiding officers so that we achieve our goal of having election that will give access to persons with disabilities,” he said.
Chairperson for the Association of People with Physical Disabilities in Malawi, Charles Khaula, said the training provided a platform for people with disability to spell out challenges that hinder their participation in the electoral process.
He was upbeat that through the meeting, Mec officials will consider choosing disability friendly infrastructure for registration and polling.