Namisa clarifies Malawi presidential debates format

The National Media Institute for the Southern Africa (Namisa) Malawi Chapter has spoken out on the format used during presidential candidates’ debates which most commentators argued lacked the spark to ignite arguments.

There have been growing concerns on the nature of the debates with the country’s celebrated comedian and actor Michael Manganya Usi being one of the people dismissing the format used as more of questions and answers talk show.

Manganya in his Tikuferanji MBCtv series argued that the presidential debates were failing to create argument as participants were more of answering questions and not debating.

Candidate during the second presidential debate

Candidate during the second presidential debate

But Namisa Chairperson, who is also heading the Presidential Debates Taskforce, Anthony Kasunda argued that the number of candidates participating in the debates was too large for the discussion to be conducted in a debate format.

“I think it’s high time we debated on whether we need twelve candidates contesting in the general elections, much as it is the right of every Malawian to contest in any election we need to examine that,” Kasunda told Capital Radio.

Kasunda said overall, for a first time the debates had been a success and expressed hopes that there will be improvements in the last debate, from the lessons learnt in the previous two.

Malawi Electoral Commission (Mec) endorsed the presidential debates that started on April 22nd in Lilongwe and 29th with the third and last session on May 6th, 2014 in Blantyre.

Kasunda last week said the debates aim to motivate candidates to focus on real policy issues, and articulate their position on matters that are important to Malawians thereby providing a basis for holding the winning candidate accountable after the elections.

The three presidential debates are being funded by the Open Society Initiative for Southern Africa (OSISA) with the National Democratic Institute providing technical support and comes a month after Zodiak Broadcasting Station (ZBS) organised a series of debate for presidential running.

President Joyce Banda is the only presidential candidate missing out on the debates after she opted not to participate due to her busy schedule.

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