Handouts syndrome amongst Malawian politicians is worrying female contestants and 50:50 campaign advocates who say the development will derail equal representation in parliament and councils as the forthcoming tripartite elections approach.
The outcry comes high on the heels of Thursday capacity building meeting of aspiring female councilors from Mzimba North organized by Tovwirane Organisation in Mzuzu.
Aspiring female councilors expressed worry that they might not make it in the forthcoming tripartite elections if handouts practice by contestants will not be put to stop saying most women are not economically empowered to outstand the handouts driven campaign at hand.
People’s Party (PP) aspiring councilor for Kasito Ward in Mzimba North Constituency, Naomi Mvula, expressed her fears with handouts.
“When I expressed my interest to contest as a Ward Councilor, my party officials welcomed my decision and asked me to show my commitment by purchasing two goats so that people in the constituency celebrate saying if I don’t do that the party will not support me and was frustrated. My worry is that if I start dispensing a little I have now, will I make it throughout the campaign period?” lamented Mvula.
Monica Simwaka of Malawi Congress Party (MCP) who is aspiring for Katawa Ward seconded Mvula saying the handouts concept is worrisome to female aspirants who have a weak financial muscle.
“As women we feel being sidelined from acquiring leadership seats because of rampant handouts trend that has locked Malawian politics, most men have stable income which they bribe voters in form of handouts whilst women fail even to organize enough rallies due to the economic hardships they are going through.
“We hear that the parliament tabled a law that forbids handouts during electoral campaigns, we feel it’s high time the law be gazette for goodness of fast approaching tripartite elections so that potential candidates who have development drive for contesting for various seats,” said Simwaka.
Tovwirane Organization’s Programs Manager for Women Empowered for Leadership Project Cecelia Chivunga said her organization is equally concerned with the ongoing handout based campaign which is likely going to deprive potential women from excelling in the forthcoming tripartite elections.
“As organization we are helping female contestants to embark on issue based campaign by coming up with good manifestoes that answer communities problems and we are sensitizing the communities to vote for candidates that have facts in their manifestoes.
Time for putting in power people who offer handouts to voters is gone, Malawians lets wake up and say no to such power hungry politicians because they are the ones who embark from plundering public resources in a bid of getting back what they spend during campaigns,” said Chavunga.
Mzimba based Tovwirane Organization is implementing Women Empowered for Leadership Project in Mzimba, Nkhata Bay and Rumphi districts targeting Female Ward Councilor contestants.