Electoral stakeholders attribute voter apathy in Karonga to little voter civic education

Karonga district returning officer Paul Kalilombe has said unless politicians and institutions accredited and to carry out voter and civic education campaigns aimed at wooing people to vote during elections intensify their campaigns, voter apathy will keep on marring elections.

Kalilombe posting final results

Kalilombe said this against the background of low turnout of electorates during the Tuesday’s court sanctioned fresh Presidential elections that saw only 89, 718 people casting their votes out of 146, 328 registered voters, meaning that 56, 610 never voted with 440 null and void votes.

Said Kalilombe: “We did  our part as electoral stakeholders to deliver polling materials within time and the elections were conducted peacefully despite registering low turnout as a large number of voters never came to vote. And again, we registered minor challenges such as delay of allowances to polling staff, shortage of some important documents and security challenges for some party monitors.

Kalilombe has since urged politicians to reflect on this and concentrate on canvassing votes through campaign rather than enticing voters with handouts.

“Voter apathy and null and void votes can be checked if institutions and politicians vigorously civic educate the masses on the importance of exercising their constitutional right to vote,” Kalilombe said.

In a separate interview, one of the local observers from Justice and Peace of Karonga Diocese Mwabi Shaba hailed both the community and electoral stakeholders for conducting peaceful elections, saying there were no reports of violence and misunderstandings.

However, Karonga District National Initiative for Civic Education (NICE) Public Trust civic education officer Christobel Munthali whose entity is one of the accredited bodies to carry out voter and civic education awareness campaigns during elections conceded that awareness campaigns were not enough but was quick to say that it was due several factors.

Munthali said the indecision that surrounded polling dates made it possible to mobilise resources, arguing mobilization and civic education dwell much on resources.

“Officially, date for polls was fixed almost two weeks before elections. So, putting together resources for civic and voter mobilization campaign to change people’s perception and convince them on why they should participate in an election was not easy,” Munthali said.

In another interview, a Zomba based political analyst Ernst Thindwa attributed to the declining numbers of voters to the global trend, saying statistics over the years has shown that countries that hold elections frequently voters lose interest in voting.

“People lose interest when there are frequent elections. You might be aware that the election came about when the Court nullified the May 19, 2019 Presidential elections. The other fundamental factor is uncertainty of polling date as the previous MEC Commissioners never gave people confidence that elections would take place within the stipulated 150 days,” Thindwa said.

Thindwa added that at times voters do not see any relationship between voting and significant change of their wellbeing in terms of development as their living standards keep on dwindling by each and passing day despite putting in place leaders who could bring the much anticipated socio economic change in their lives.

He has since implored the incoming government to work on that to inspire people who have trusted these leaders by voting them into power.

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