Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Malawi needs electoral reforms - MESN

Based on the first edition of the Long Term Observation report released by the Malawi Electoral Support Network (MESN) on the pre-election events ahead of the forthcoming tripartite election, the extent of illiteracy among candidates proves that standards of qualifications have to be raised for future elections.
According to MESN chairman, Steve Duwa, the Malawi electoral laws need to be reformed in order to ensure that people with a good standard of education get elected into the right positions so that they can understand relevant policies and anything regarding their work.

Duwa said this on Monday as their body presented findings established after their organization conducted a systematic observation on events leading to the elections which revealed that some of the aspiring Members of Parliament and councillors failed to fill their nomination papers due to failure to understand the terms used on the forms. “In some parts of the country, eligible candidates were found failing to fill the nomination papers due to failure to understand some terms on the forms which indicates that people do not understand basic English which is likely to hinder their service delivery once elected,” explained Duwa. The chairman then faulted the selling and buying of voter registration by some eligible voters and low turnout of women contesting as negative key areas in the electoral process.

“MESN has already found out that in some areas people had their voter registration cards bought by people of evil plans and as a key player in the electoral process, we condemn the development. “Also, the low number of women contestants, is one negative development the report indicated which according to MESN, will disturb the campaign on 50-50 representation of men and women in decision making positions,” observed Duwa. In addition, the project report also found out that some pockets of violence, as well as establishment of no go zones for other political parties were among the negative developments ahead of the election. The chairman however clarified that during the period, the Malawi Electoral Commission (MEC) could not employ punitive measures as stipulated by law because it was outside campaign period but warned all election players ranging from political parties, traditional leaders, political leaders, and party followers to observe peace during the campaign period as any acts of violence are bound to be punisable.

However, on a positive note, MESN through the same Long Term Observation (LTO) established that Civil Society Organisations (CSOs) conducted voter civic education in a nonpartisan manner which was very effective. “Despite some of the CSOs having not yet embarked on civic education campaign due to lack of funds, those who have started are doing clean work not leaning towards any party,” added Duwa. David Ngomba, head of Long Term Observation (LTO) project for MESN explained that they have two more projects apart from the LTO namely Parrarell Vote Tabulation ( PVT) and Stuation Room project that are lined up for thorough monitoring of the whole election process to ensure  free and fairness. For the LTO only, MESN has trained and deployed 84 observers in selective constituencies and eight master trainers in all the four political regions of the country with funding from the United States Agency for International Development (USAID).

Source:  Malawi News Agency

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