Make presidential debates attractive, Malawi Electoral Commission tells taskforce

The Malawi Electoral Commission (MEC) has challenged the newly formed taskforce on presidential debates to make the discussions attractive so that Malawians get excited and participate in the debates.

MEC commissioner for Media, Civic and Voter Education Committee Nancy Tembo made the remarks on Monday in Zomba during a third preparatory meeting of the taskforce.

“Ladies and gentlemen, the Commission expects more excitement for the presidential debates but we have to work for this.  This will be the only forum provided to the electorates to compare policies and views of all presidential candidates on a single platform. This will go a long way in helping them make informed decisions. Therefore, we need to plan and execute the presidential debates in a manner that is attractive,” said Tembo.

She also challenged the taskforce to avoid concentrating the presidential debates in urban areas only.

Tenbo: Advising officers
Tenbo: Advising officers

She said: “There should be a mechanism of ensuring even geographical distribution of the debates. There should not be high concentration in some areas while others are starving. There should be a good mix up of the rural and urban areas especially on the local elections. Temptations can be high to concentrate the debates in the urban and other easy-to reach areas but let us do our best to avert this situation.”

Tembo said MEC thought of bringing presidential debates against the background of excitement that parliamentary debates brought in the past elections. She asked MEC to ensure proper coordination of the presidential debates.

The taskforce has already formed sub-groups on specific tasks which are Coordination, Resource Mobilisation, Stakeholders Engagement, Issue Generation and Debate structure/format, hosting and programming.

She said funds permitting; some members of the taskforce will have to travel to some countries to learn how presidential debates are conducted.

The list of organizations that are forming the task force includes the Malawi Electoral Commission (MEC), National Democratic Institute for International Affairs (NDI), Catholic Commission for Justice and Peace (CCJP), Public Affairs Committee (PAC) and National Initiative for Civic Education Trust (NICE).

Other organizations are the Centre for Multiparty Democracy (CMD), Media Institute of Southern Africa (MISA)-Malawi Chapter, Malawi Electoral Support Network (MESN), Malawi Broadcasting Corporation (MBC), Zodiak Broadcasting Station (ZBS) and the Malawi Human Rights Commission.


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