Voters in Malawi who for one reason or another will move to another place other than where the person registered, will as well have to forget exercising the right to vote if the individual will have no means to get back to the registration centre, it has been learnt.
Malawi Electoral Commission (MEC) Commissioner Nancy Tembo declared this during the on-going ward demarcation public hearings held at Zomba City Council Chamber Friday February 1 2013.
“MEC will not provide transfer certificates to voters who have registered in one ward and want to vote in another ward because the process will complicate matters.
“Experience has shown that transfers bring about discrepancies at polling stations on the voting day. The masses should therefore be civic educated that one will vote at a centre in the ward where she or he lives and has to register there,” Commissioner Tembo explained.
The Commissioner was reacting to a worry by some political party leaders who suggested that people from Mtiya ward be allowed to vote at Sawmill ward, saying with the new map, the latter now falls in the district council depriving those in the city their right.
Representatives from two other political parties argued that such being the case, then the electoral body should consider opening another centre closer because being hilly, the new centre would be helpful for Zomba Central Constituents.
Commissioner Reverend Ambassador Emmanuel Chimkwita-Phiri assured residents in the old capital city that the Malawi Electoral Commission could open Atuweni Orphan Care to replace Sawmill Centre for Zomba City.
The Commissioner also assured the gathering that MEC will conduct the tripartite elections next year.
“I can confirm that in 2014, we will have Presidential, Parliamentary and Local Government Elections. All stakeholders should start preparations for the tripartite elections,” the Commissioner emphasized.
MEC also played down the fears in some traditional leaders that the ward demarcation exercise has nothing to do with village boundaries.
“I wish to emphasize that ward demarcation is purely for the purposes of Local Government Elections and nothing to do with Chiefs boundaries. MEC will no way be involved in Chiefs boundaries,” Commissioner Reverend Chimkwita-Phiri said.
MEC scheduled to wind up the public hearings Monday February 4 2013 with Mchinji, Thyolo and Machinga District Council, having done away with 29 councils- 26 this year, three last year but it has some issues to sort out with the country’s Municipal and Town Councils, where it has put on hold.
Last week, MEC announced the postponement of public hearings for Mangochi Town Council, Kasungu and Luchenza Municipal Councils because there is need for more consultations having realized that there are some lapses in the current law.
“The postponement has come about in order to give more room for consultations on the law prescribing the number of wards which the Commission may determine for the purpose of Local Government Elections for Municipalities and Towns,” indicated MEC Chief Elections Officer Willie Kalonga in a statement.
The ward demarcation process started in 2010 and the Electoral Commission Amendment Bill of 2010 sought to stipulate the number of wards the Commission may determine for the purpose of Local Government Elections.
The amendment says that each constituency should have two wards except for the commercial city of Blantyre and capital Lilongwe which can have not more than 30 wards, while the northern region’s city of Mzuzu should have a slot of not more than 15 with the country’s old capital of Zomba cannot exceed 10 wards. There is no mention of Municipal and Town Councils.
Under the current law, the number of wards has been reduced to 444 from 861, which many commentators argue is not concrete.
MEC has disclosed that it will conduct a fresh voter’s roll, electronically, and that every eligible voter will have to register afresh and in the ward that he will vote for his or her Councillor, and not just in Constituency.
Malawi Parliament last year passed a bill allowing MEC to conduct a Tripartite Elections in May 2014, the first in the history of the country.
MEC Mission is to conduct free, fair, credible and cost effective elections on a regular basis as required by the Constitution
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