Local governance organizations, the Pan African Civic Educators Network ( PACENET ) and National Elections Systems Trust (NEST), have described the creation of 35 additional constituencies for the purpose of the 2025 General Elections as unrealistic, politically dangerous and lethal to Malawi’s economy.
PACENET Acting Executive Director Olive Mpina and NEST Executive Director, Unandi Banda, in a statement they issued on Friday, argue the economy is currently on deathbed; hence, it may not have the capacity to support the holding of General Elections in the distant future.
Mpina and Banda say the proposal is unrealistic and damaging economically, saying the economy is not only small, but fragile too and with the additional 35 parliamentary seats.
“Sustaining those seats means that the taxpayer in Malawi will be overburden, but benefit nothing in the end. Our view is that the MEC has not done a political economy analysis before arriving at its decision,” they argue.
They say it is sad to note that Malawi is failing to draw lessons from other countries that are doing better economically and politically.
“For example, through a comparison between Malawi and its immediate neighbour Zambia, we note that Zambia is much bigger than Malawi in terms of geographical size as well as the size of its economy which is more vibrant than that of Malawi and yet Zambia only has 156 constituencies. So, the question is who does the MEC want to please by creating additional 35 parliamentary seats?” Mpina and Banda ask.
PACENET and NEST have since recommended the Malawi Electoral Commission (MEC) to reconsider the decision to increase the number of constituencies in Malawi for the sake of Malawi‘s fragile economy, stressing that although democracy is expensive, the common sense should prevail at times.
“Parliament should consider rejecting this report when it’s presented for adoption in Parliament unless the intentions are to create additional seats to be contested by female candidates. The civil society and the media should help sensitize the masses on the political and economic negative consequences of the decision by MEC to increase number of constituencies by 35. Finally, we lobby parliament and political parties to reject MEC decision unless the additional number of constituencies are additional seats to be contested by female candidates,” concludes the statement.
MEC Director of Media and Public Relations Sangwani Mwafulirwa was not immediately available to comment on the matter.