Senior Chief Chikumbu of Mulanje says electoral violence denies women a right to fair campaining and has since said traditional leaders have a critical role to ensure that all aspiring candidates have a leveled playing field.
Speaking in an interview, Senior chief Chikumbu said that as custodians of traditional beliefs that drive gender disparities, the chiefs had a great role to play in changing the negative social perceptions that underates the critical role women can play in elected political positions.
“As a female chief, I have been sensitising my subjects to consider the important roles that a woman plays in society and I make it a point to remind my subjects that these roles are qualities that make a woman a good leader,” said Chikumbu.
She said as politicians are repositioning themselves in preparation of next year’s tripartite elections, she has been advising all aspiring candidates operating in her area to respect the role women play in the socio-economic development of the country and has been encouraging peaceful co-existance among all aspirants.
“I have been advising my subjects to avoid creating no go zones for some political groupings including women. We might have different political views however at the end of the day we are all Malawians and we have to peacefully co-exist if we have to develop as a nation,” said Chikumbu.
Chikumbu’s sentiments echo those of Twambilire Mwabungulu, District Civic Education Officer for the Natitional Initiative for Civic Education who said electoral violence denies women aspirants a right to fair campaigning.
“Many women can not stand the heat of the electoral violence and this denies them a right to effectively market themselves to the electorates,” said Mabungulu.
He said his office will soon embark on an intensive sensitisation excise on the dangers of violence during an election period.
“We are currently on a capacity building excise for our volunteers where we are training our volunteers how they can effectively conduct civic and voter education campaigns. We are also advising them to preach peace through the excise,” said Mwabungulu.
Meanwhile, District Commissioner for Mulanje, Charles Makanga has advised Malawi Electoral Commision staff to excise their duties impartiality to avoid elections related violence.