Gwanda in voter registration push for Malawi tripartite elections

As the second phase of voter registration exercise got underway Thursday, veteran politician and former president of the main opposition Malawi Congress Party (MCP), Gwanda Chakuamba, has come out of his cocoon to send an emotional appeal to the electorate to register en mass ahead of next year’s tripartite elections.

The second phase will run up to August 21, 2013 covering all the remaining constituencies in Blantyre City, all the constituencies in Blantyre and Chiradzulu Districts and Thyolo North constituency, according to Malawi Electoral Commission (MEC).

Chakuamba had kept a low political profile since his former party (MCP) snubbed his intent to rejoin it a few months ago on ground that he was a political vagabond.

But this week the grey-haired politician resurfaced for a good cause mobilizing illegible Malawians to register in the on-going voter registration campaign in order to exercise their constitutional right to vote during next year’s polls.

Chakuamba: Register to vote
Chakuamba: Register to vote

The veteran politician said it was important for the electorate to have their names in the voters’ registry so as to vote for a candidate of their choice during the polls.

“I am appealing to all eligible Malawians to go and register in their large numbers because no one would be able to participate in the general elections without a registration certificate,” urged Chakuamba.

He added: “I also appeal to the people to avoid registering twice… Registering is only done once and if one is caught registering more than once he or she is bound to fall into trouble.”

Asked in what capacity he was making the plea, Chakuamba, who draws maximum respect among people from Lower Shire, said he just felt obliged to make such an appeal to Malawians because of his vast experience in electoral as well as political issues.

“I am not appealing to people in any capacity, I don’t hold any political position at the moment but I am sure Malawians will appreciate that as a person who has practised politics since 1958 and having gone through many elections since 1961, I feel duty bound to make this appeal to fellow Malawians,” explained Chakuamba, one of the country’s senior citizens.

However, the political grandmaster expressed concern over the Malawi Electoral Commission’s failure to extend the first phase of the exercise arguing many people were left out.

“MEC should have extended the period because according to what I have gathered there are many people who did not register due to various reasons ranging from personal to irregularities on the part of the electoral body,” observed Chakuamba, who claimed to have been the first to register at Muona registration center in his Nsanje North Constituency which he represented for several years.

But MEC reiterated its stand not to extend the first phase of the exercise saying it was impressed with how things were conducted despite a general outcry to do so due to irregularities.

The first phase, which covered, all centers in Nsanje, Neno, Chikhwawa, Mwanza and only two constituencies in Blantyre- Kabula and City West officially closed last Sunday, August 4,

The veteran politician was, however, non-committal on whether he would contest in the parliamentary seat having suspended his political retirement twice to join active politics.

He once led the MCP after taking over from its life-president and Malawi’s founding leader, Dr Hastings Kamuzu Banda.

Chakuamba also formed his own Republican Party (RP) and until today, he claims to have been robbed victory during the 2004 general elections when he represented the Mgwirizano Coalition.

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