The sixth phase of voter registration starts on October 15 and runs up to October 28, 2013. This phase will cover Lilongwe City, Chitipa and Dowa districts, Mchinji South and Southwest constituencies and Dedza West, Central, Central East, Southwest and Northwest constituencies.
Coincidentally the first day of starting voter registration for this phase is a public holiday, Mothers’ Day. This gives more of the reason to make this year’s Mothers Day celebration a unique one.
Despite being a public holiday, registration centres will be open normally from 8AM to 4PM on October 15. Let us all take advantage of this public holiday to go and register. Those who plan to treat their mothers on this special day, you can take them for registration at the nearest centre if it happens that they are in the area where registration will take place in the sixth phase.
Explain to the grandmothers, that despite age and frailty they still have a right to vote. Help them to make it to the registration centres to register. At the registration centres, they will not queue but will be given priority as is the case with expectant mothers, sick persons and those with various physical and health challenges.
Those of us who have younger sisters who are mothers but they have not turned 18 or will not have attained the age of 18 on May 20, 2014 which is the polling day, let us advise them that they are not eligible to register despite being mothers. They can celebrate Mothers Day but they should not go to register because that is an offence.
For those of us whose mothers are in areas where registration already took place, let us take time to advise them on the need to keep the voter certificate safe. Tell them that this is a valuable document that they will use to elect a leader of their choice; that is a councillor, a Member of Parliament and President. They should keep it at a place out of reach of children or where it can easily get into contact with water or fire. If they lost their certificates, they should not despair as they can still vote. Advise them that during voter verification they should go to the centre where they registered and inform the registration supervisor who will issue them a replacement certificate.
Let us emphasise to our mothers that it is their responsibility to keep the voter certificate safe, they should not sell it neither should they allow someone to withdraw it from them. No one should cheat them to surrender the voter certificate for safe keeping. If anyone approaches them to buy their certificate they should report the person to the Police. The public should also know that it is an offence to be found in possession of registration certificates of which you are not the rightful owner.
Let us also inform our mothers, that it is an offence to give testimony that children qualify for registration when they know that they are underage.
If our mothers are in areas where registration is yet to take place, let us inform them on the need to register at the time it is taking place. They have equal rights with men and they should not allow anyone to stop them from registering. And all persons should know that it is a crime to prevent an eligible person from registering.