Nov 20, 2017 Last Updated 2:48 PM, Nov 20, 2017
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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 (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 appealing to candidates in the October 17 by-elections to abide by the Code of Conduct for Political Parties and Candidates which they are signatory to, during the campaign period.

The candidates can officially begin campaigning today, and the period is expected to end on October 15, two days before the polls.

In a statement, signed by the Deputy Chief elections Officer, Harris Potani, the MEC urges the aspirants to observe all electoral laws and regulations during the period.

The Malawi Electoral Commission has confirmed the eligibility of 19 candidates to take part in the by-elections.

Of the 19, 15 are men and four, women.

The aspirants presented their nomination papers to the commission last Friday, in preparation for the elections set to take place in three constituencies and wards in four districts of the country.

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.

Malawi’s major donors, the United States and Britain are calling for a level playing among all political parties   

They are urging political parties to be civil towards each other as they campaign ahead of the by-elections next month, and in the run up to the 2019 polls.

According to the donors, Malawi has a good democratic record which makes it a model for Africa and beyond.

In a joint statement, representatives of the two diplomatic missions indicate that they are in support of preparations for another round of democratic elections in the country.

Edward Monster who is the public affairs Officer at the US Embassy said. “as Malawi’s development partners we support Malawi’s preparations for the upcoming by-elections and also the 2019 elections.”

“We urge all political parties in Malawi to respect the rights of their opponents to both stand for elections and campaign freely,” Monster added.

Holly Tett, the British High Commissioner emphasised on the importance of not only the by-elections but also the 2019 general elections.

The commissioners also mentioned on the need for all Malawians to remain peaceful during both elections.

Malawi will be holding by-elections next month in three ward and three constituencies.

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.

Voter registration is set to begin on Thursday for by-elections to take place in three wards and three constituencies in Malawi.

A statement by the Malawi Electoral Commission (MEC) reveals that the registration of voters, previously not registered under the commission, and verification of those already registered, will run till Monday next week.

The statement, signed by MEC’s Deputy Chief Elections Officer Harris Potani, further indicates that the registration centres will be open from 8am to 4pm, including during the weekend and on lunch hours.

Malawians eligible to register are those who have attained the age of 18, or will be of that age by October 17, the polling day.

For non Malawians, the commission states that those of the appropriate age must have been resident in the country for at least seven years, to be allowed to register.

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

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

The polls will also take place in Nsanje Lalanje Constituency.

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