Apr 22, 2018 Last Updated 2:12 PM, Apr 20, 2018
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The Malawi Electoral Commission (MEC) is blaming political parties and women for the poor participation of women in political positions.

Of the 193 seats in the Malawi parliament, only 32 are occupied by women making it a male dominant national assembly with 161 males.

This represents a 16.6 percent representation of women parliamentarians from the 2014 general elections.

The number of female legislators reduced to 32 from the 43 that were elected in 2009.

Only 56 women were elected Ward Councillors in 2014 from 457 Wards.

Speaking to Capital FM, the Chairperson for MEC Jane Ansah said that political parties and women themselves are to blame for this.

“It has been our plea that political parties should take deliberate efforts to include women. MEC does not field contestants; it is political parties who field contestants and it is a plea that please you should be inclusive.”

Ansah added, “Create conducive environment in the political parties so that women should participate.”

She further blamed women for reducing themselves to hand clappers and praise song singers.

“Most women do not want to go beyond hand clappers and praise song singers for political party leaders. They look down on themselves and never try to go and grab big political positions.”

Political parties have however thrown the blame to the women saying they belittle themselves and never attempt to stand strong.

United Democratic Front (UDF) Publicity Secretary Ken Ndanga emphasized that the party has put in place good policies but women fail to put them to use.

“I think to say that political parties are doing less is wrong. To a great extent, women themselves are the ones who need to be willing to grab these positions. If women will not be willing, we will still be having this problem,” Ndanga said.

More political parties have said that women are the ones who need to be on the fore front to take up leadership positions because policies are already there.

Malawians are proposing that inactive political parties be deregistered ahead of the 2019 general polls, following concerns of low party participation during elections.

Malawi Electoral Commission (MEC) Chairperson Jane Ansah has on a number of occasions expressed concern on how most political party prefer to not take part in by elections and only in general elections.

The most recent was during the announcement of the results of the by elections which were held last month the Chairperson emphasised on the need for dormant parties to participate in elections so to positively contribute to the country’s democracy.

In a country where there are over 50 registered political parties all claiming to want to develop Malawi, one has to question how party participation in elections can be so low. 

Perhaps some political parties feel that they have little support on the ground and competing in elections would mean using precious resources, s risk which they may not be willing to take.

Political analyst Happy Kayuni says registering and establishing political parties is the right of every Malawian.

“However though they have such a right they also have the responsibility to keep them going and participate in activities such as by elections.

The majority of the political parties in the country do not know their roles, that are why there have been calls to amend the political party act,” Kayuni adds.

If amended, the law will allow authorities to deregister inactive parties.

Concurring with Kayuni, people eligible to vote think it is high time dormant political parties start having vision and making their moves, or else de-register 

Malawi’s electoral body through its spokesman Sangwani Mwafulirwa is on the other hand optimistic that dormant political parties will start to participate in the elections, as it is the whole essence of getting registered after all.

Mwafulirwa tells Capital FM that, Malawi has over 50 political parties, however only a handful participate in elections.

The mood for the 2019 general elections is already being set with active political parties all hoping to win key positions and making their moves.

Now is the time for all parties to clearly indicate if they will contest or not, for the electorate to start making their choices.

The Malawi Electoral Commission has accredited 110 civil society organisations, to conduct Civic Education for the 2019 Tripartite Polls.

Among these are faith-based organisations, human rights organisations, and organisations advocating for the rights of people with disabilities.

According to a statement by the commission, signed by the deputy Chief Elections Officer Harris Potani, the CSOs applied to be accredited.

The organisations are responsible for providing civic and voter education on behalf of the commission, ahead of the polls.

The CSOs will be issued accreditation certificates during a meeting scheduled to be held in Lilongwe in early December. 

The Malawi Electoral Commission (MEC) is assuring the electorate of holding a credible, free and fair by-election on October 17.

There are fears of voter apathy following the recent incidences of political violence in Nsanje and Rumphi.

Parliamentary elections are set for three constituencies in Lilongwe and Nsanje while local government polls will be held in some wards in Lilongwe and Blantyre.

Speaking to Capital FM, MEC Commissioner responsible for media and civic education Clifford Baloyi emphasises that stiff measures are in place to conduct a free and fair election.

“MEC does not work on its own, it has various partners that are ready to assist and ensure that elections are free and fair.

Unlike the general elections this time around if all goes well, we will be able to announce results from all wards on the 17th,” Baloyi added

In Lilongwe, the by-elections will take place in Lilongwe Nsozi North Constituency, Lilongwe City South East Constituency and Mtsiliza Ward.

Residents of Mayani North Ward in Dedza and Ndirande Makata Ward in Blantyre will also be voting for a new councillor on the day.

The polls will also take place in Nsanje Lalanje Constituency.

The Malawi Electoral Commission is today set to begin civic education meetings on the by-elections to be held on the 17th of this month.

The public mobilisation and civic education sessions are to be held in all the six areas where by-elections will take place.

These are constituencies and wards in Lilongwe, Dedza, Blantyre and Nsanje.

In Lilongwe, the by-elections will take place in Lilongwe Nsozi North Constituency, Lilongwe City South East Constituency and Mtsiliza Ward.

Residents of Mayani North Ward in Dedza and Ndirande Makata Ward in Blantyre will also be voting for a new councillor on the day.

The polls will also take place in Nsanje Lalanje Constituency.

In a statement signed by the Deputy Chief Elections Officer, Harris Potani, the MEC explains that during the meetings, commissioners will be explaining more regarding the arrangement for polling, voting and results announcement.

The statement adds that stakeholders will also be given an opportunity to ask questions and seek clarifications on issues regarding the conduct of the by-elections scheduled for October 17, 2017. 

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