The National Initiative for Civic Education (Nice)-Trust has challenged electorates to be vigilant in holding elected leaders accountable and ensure that they live up to their promises.
During the 2014 election period, various political leaders signed social contracts with their prospective voters promising to carry out a number of initiatives and development projects when elected into office.
As the nation prepares for the 2019 elections, Nice Trust plans to facilitate, candidates debate and oversee the signing of a number of social contracts between candidates and the electorate. However, some have questioned the effectiveness of the debates as well as the social contracts.
Speaking in an interview on Monday, Nice Trust executive director Ollen Mwalubunju, said on its part they provide a platform for candidates to sell their manifestos and the electorate to air their expectation.
He explains: “We facilitate the debates and signing of the social contracts as a way of ensuring transparency and accountability. However, it is the responsibility of the electorate to ensure implementation and fulfilment of the promises by being assertive, alert and inquisitive and reminding their leaders to ensure that what they promised during the campaign is implemented.”
He further said this is the right time for the electorate to assess their leaders as they seek to stand again in next year’s elections.
“The social contracts and the debates serve as reminder tools. If the leaders want to contest again the electorate will easily measure their productivity and measure whether to keep them or boot them out of their political positions,” he added.
According to Mwalubunju, candidates’ debates and signing of the social contract are set to roll out once nomination of prospective candidates is done by the Malawi Electoral Commission in line with the electoral calendar.
In April 2016, Children and the Youths under the auspices of the Malawi Human Rights Youth Network, Timveni Children and Youth media and Unicef engaged the candidates with a list of priority they must address when elected.
The commitments signed include, promises to reduce newborn deaths, reduce malnutrition, increase classrooms for better primary education, reduce early marriage and create jobs and reduce youth employment.
The candidates who made their commitments at the Bingu International Conference Centre (BICC) in 2014 included President Peter Mutharika of Democratic Progressive Party (DPP), Kamuzu Chibambo of Peoples Transformation Party (Petra), Lazarus Chakwera of Malawi Congress Party (MCP), Mark Katsonga of Peoples Progressive Movement (PPM), George Nnesa of Tisintha Alliance, and late Helen Singh of United Independence Party (UIP).