Malawi Electoral Commission (MEC) chairperson Chifundo Kachale has said plans to demarcate large constituencies are at an advanced stage.
In an interview, Kachale said the commission is finalising the process and will issue out a calendar this week on how the exercise should be carried out.
He said: “By its very nature, the process is supposed to be consultative as it is not just going to involve one constituency. It has to be a holistic process. You don’t want to process where you are going to propose a number of constituencies that our economy cannot sustain.
“It’s a process that will involve a lot of give and take. All stakeholders must be brought on board and ultimately whether it will be enacted or not, will be up to Parliament.”
The call to have big constituencies split have been made by various stakeholders, including President Lazarus Chakwera and Vice-President Saulos Chilima during the May 2019 Tripartite Elections campaign.
At the time, Chilima said some constituencies were too big which affects development, adding such need to be split.
And in 2017, various stakeholders called for the splitting of constituencies that are deemed big in terms of area and population size. MEC earlier said it would start the exercise in 2020.
When contacted, Malawi Congress Party (MCP) and United Democratic Front (UDF) welcomed Kachale’s remarks, saying it is high time MEC embarked on the demarcation exercise as big constituencies are depriving people of development and affecting democracy.
In separate interviews on Sunday, MCP spokesperson Maurice Munthali and UDF secretary general Kandi Padambo said the parties fully support the splitting of some constituencies.
Munthali said: “When allocating resources for constituencies, the budget does not look at size, terrain and other issues. All constituencies are allocated the same amount. Some constituencies are too big which denies constituents development projects.”
On his part, Padambo said the demarcation of constituencies is good for both development and democracy.
He said: “Some constituencies are too small while others are very big which makes it difficult to ensure equal representation. It is something that must be corrected. We support it to make sure that representation is almost equal.”
Democratic Progressive Party spokesperson Brown Mpinganjira said he needed to consult on the matter before commenting, while UTM Party spokesperson Joseph Chidanti Malunga could not be reached for comment.
Meanwhile, University of Livingstonia political scientist George Phiri has said splitting of big constituencies will ensure that people are represented but also that development flourishes to impact on lives of people.