National Media Institute for Southern Africa (Namisa) which is chairing the multi-stakeholders taskforce on first-ever presidential debates says the number of political parties to take part in the second debate scheduled for Bingu International Conference Center on April 29 will be limited to those parties that are fielding parliamentary candidates in not less than ten percent of the 193 constituencies.
This means that only presidential candidates whose parties are fielding at least 20 parliamentarians will take part in the second and third debate in Lilongwe and Blantyre respectively. In Blantyre, the debate will place on May 6 at Victoria Hotel starting from 6pm to 9pm.
According to the statement signed by Namisa chairperson Anthony Kasunda, most of the candidates have confirmed participation.
Among other things, Kasunda says the debates have been organised to inspire issues based elections and enable candidates to market their ideas and policies to the electorate.
He added that the debates aim to motivate candidates to focus on real policy issues and articulate their position on matters that are important to Malawians, thereby providing a basis for holding the winning candidate accountable after the elections and provide voters with a rare opportunity to compare presidential contenders side by side.
“The debates aim to help promote political tolerance among candidates and provide an opportunity for political rivals to show that despite their differences they can treat each other with mutual respect even when they disagree on issues which would in turn promote political coexistence before and after the elections,” the statement reads.
The debates to be broadcast live on TV, radio and internet, will combine Chichewa and English and Namisa says it will be moderated by a well-respected, knowledgeable Malawian with a neutral stand and very conversant with Malawian politics.
Funding for the debates has been provided by the Open Society Initiative for Southern Africa (OSISA) with the National Democratic Institute providing technical assistance made possible by support from UKAID.