MEC urged to extend voter registration period

University of Malawi’s (Unima) Chancellor College political scientist Ernest Thindwa has pleaded with the Malawi Electoral Commission(EC) imploring it to extend the just ended registration exercise in the phase one.

Thindwa in an exclusive interview with Nyasa Times warned against failure to ensure that everyone is given an opportunity to register for the 2019 Tripartite elections.

Low turn up for the registration of voters for the forthcoming tripartite elections has hit Kasungu, Dedza and Salima raising fears that the main opposition, the Malawi Congress Party (MCP) might lose out in the region touted as its stronghold.

The development prompted MCP president Lazarus Chakwera to visit some centres in Dedza to encourage people to register if they are to vote next year.

Chakwera visited Mganga, Chimpudzu and Mankhamba registration centres amid concerns of the low turn out.

Thindwa said: “It is important for MEC to ensure that the registration process is deemed to be credible and acceptable to all stakeholders. Short of that it is a recipe for a disastrous and violent conflict riddled electoral process.”

He said extending the registration period in affected areas is a sensible choice even if it means spending a little more resources for its worth and less costly when compared to the potential violence which may ensure when some sections of society perceive the electoral process and registration in particular as disadvantaging some citizens and certain political interests.

“MEC need to make reference to their vision and mission statements for guidance on critical decision. At no point so such statement give room for disfranchising any eligible individual for whatever reason. Purely operational issues over which MEC has control can not be valid reasons for the body to deny any Malawian of his/her entitlement to exercise democratic right like voting.”

He said the survival of democracy as our chosen form of political governance is largely dependent on citizen support for the system.

“Voting by the masses is the most decisive exercise in support of democracy. Low registration and consequently low voter turn up is a clear indication of the collapse of democracy, a situation we should guard against,” said Thindwa.

He’s prayed the MEC to consider giving some days window for a mop up with enough notification so those who were unable to register could be given the chance to do so.

However, MEC Chairperson, Jane Ansah has been saying that the electoral body cannot extend the exercise.

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Yamikani Chezani

Journalist by profession, I like what I do here, that is, keeping the world close to news As It Happens.

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