The Malawi Electoral Commission (MEC) has singled out Karonga Central Constituency as one of the volatile areas with just three months to the May 20 Tripartite Elections.
Nicknamed Benghazi after a time-honoured battlefield in Libya, the shoreline in Karonga has become a conflict zone since 2009 when Deputy Finance Minister Cornelius Mwalwanda and People’s Party (PP) deputy secretary general Frank Mwenifumbo had their first-ever face-off in parliamentary poll.
But speaking when the National Initiative for Civic Education (Nice) Trust on Wednesday signed agreements with Nyika Media Club and Malawi Police Service (MPS), MEC regional elections officer Diverson Makwate said journalists and law enforcer are key in ensuring peace in the area ahead of the polls.
Said Makwate in a speech: “The media and the police have a pivotal role to play to bring peace to volatile areas. Let us do something about volatile areas such as Karonga South and Karonga North West.”
He described the signing of the memorandum of understanding as significant in achieving credible and violence-free polls.
According to Nice regional civic education officer Enoch Chinkhuntha, the agreements are among others aimed at bridging the gap between the electorate and candidates by supporting the media to visit several areas to hold debates, cover stories and sensitise the masses at the grass roots level. The police are also expected to respond with speed to any reports of unrest.
MPS commissioner in-charge of the North Paul Kanata said Karonga registered the highest number of violence during the registration period last year. He said it is time the police service got out of traditional policing methods—arresting, charging and prosecuting offender—and do more to ensure law, peace and order.
“As we approach May 20, the security sector has come together in a joint operations arrangement which attracted the desire to work with us. This arrangement will target all areas including violence-prone zones,” he said.
Nyika Media Club chairperson Chimbizga Msimuko pledged that the media will work as professionals with a noble purpose to give Malawians information that is accurate, timely, balance and relevant to help them vote wisely.