Media Institute of Southern Africa (Misa) Malawi Chapter has expressed optimism that the just-ended presidential debates have helped Malawians to focus on issues and not personalities when voting for candidates.
Misa Malawi Chairperson Theresa Ndanga was speaking to journalists at the end the third and final presidential debate held on Friday evening in Lilongwe.
Ndanga observed that Malawians will now fully utilise the information they have gotten throughout the debates when making a decision on whom to vote for.
“As Misa we expect that Malawians will now depart from the traditional way of voting where a person would be voted because of relations, tribe or a region one comes from. The May 21 election will be issue-based,” said Ndanga who described the event as a success.
The Misa chairperson also urged eligible voters to come out in their large number and exercise their right to vote so as to elect right people into positions.
However, in a telephone interview yesterday, Malawi Electoral Support Network (Mesn) executive director Steve Duwa pointed out that the debates may only have influence among urban voters and not necessarily people in rural areas.
Duwa argued that the country is still influenced by regional and tribal affiliations and that it will take time before real change is manifested.
The failure by the ruling Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) candidate Peter Mutharika to take part in the debates may also not greatly affect how voters choose candidates because of the same reason, said Duwa.
He said: “I think we still have people that already made up their minds even before the debates took place and for the rural voters I don’t think they will be swayed that much.” n