HRDC want Parliament amend electoral law for Malawians in diaspora to vote
The Human Rights Defenders Coalition (HRDC) has backed calls by Malawians living abroad who feel they are sidelined as far as participating in General Elections is concerned saying a law needs to be passed to enable inclusiveness of all Malawians.
HRDC’s remarks comes high on the heels of some Malawians living in Diaspora who argue that the current voting system leaves them out and, to a great extent, stifles their right to vote.
“We need Parliament to enact a law that can allow Malawians in the diaspora to be able to vote.
“The right to vote should be enjoyed by all Malawians equally regardless whether others are outside Malawi,” HRDC chairperson, Gift Trapence, told Nyasa Times on Monday.
According to chairperson of Malawians living in Ireland Henry Mkumbira-Phiri it is their constitutional right to participate in the country’s General Elections.
Said Phiri: “We contribute a lot towards the socio-economic development of our country and, therefore we feel it is unfair to be excluded on election issues.
“The government through the Electoral Commission should find means to ensure that the Diaspora participates in the voting. We have seen our friends from different countries doing the same in Ireland, and we feel like the Electoral Commission can work out on the same.”
According to him, having the Diaspora participate in elections will make them feel that their voices matter.
“Otherwise we become a laughing stock when we make comments about elections we don’t directly participate in,” he said.
But Malawi Electoral Commission (MEC) spokesman, Sangwani Mwafulirwa, said what Malawians in the Diaspora were demanding was not possible.
“At the moment there is no law enabling the MEC to setup voter registration and polling centres outside Malawi.
“Eligible Malawians outside the country could come home and register. They can schedule their holidays to coincide with the registration and polling times. The Commission will be providing information in good time to enable planning,” Mwafulirwa said.
He noted that as they [MEC] prepare for the 2025 elections, “there will be no voter registration and voting from the Diaspora, and no online, electronic or internet voting.”
Countries across the world have, over the years, adopted internet and electronic voting because of their efficiencies in time saving and tallying of the results.
India leads the pack of using electronic voting machines for its convenience. For the 2019 elections, the country had 912 million eligible voters. Printing ballot papers for such huge population could be an environmental hazard and counting could be cumbersome.
In Africa only two (Namibia and DRC) have used electronic machines in national elections.
However, with passage of time, a number of countries have abandoned the machine systems due to issues and concerns over security and reliability.
This is happening even in the developed world including the hub of technology, the USA. About 93 percent of the votes in 2020 elections were paper-based against 86 percent in 2016.
Countries are turning to paper as the most secure way to audit elections and detect potential vote tampering.Follow and Subscribe Nyasa TV :