Malawi Electoral Commission lines up public hearings on ward demarcations

As the country prepares for the 2014 Tripartite Elections, the Malawi Electoral Commission  (MEC) has planned nationwide public hearings on ward demarcations to take place between January 14 and February 14, 2013 according to a statement signed by its chief elections officer, Willie Kalonga.

The statement says the commission is continuing with the public hearings programme  which  it started last year in December where it covered Kasungu, Rumphi and Nsanje by going to the remaining districts, towns, cities and municipalities.

The statement says maps for the proposed wards were made available for public viewing in all cities, districts and municipalities’ offices and also headquarters of Traditional Authorities (T/A) from December 30, 2012 to January 12, 2014.

In another statement issued on Friday, January 11, 2013, MEC Director of Media and Public Relations said the commission has lined up nine meetings to be covered in the week starting 14 February, 2013.

Kalonga: Nationwide public hearings

He says on Monday, February 14, the commission will hold the public hearings in Chikhwawa, Chitipa and Salima while on Wednesday it will be in Neno, Lilongwe District (covering wards outside the city) and Karonga.

Public hearing for Lilongwe City will be held on Thursday, January 17, 2013, then Likoma and Mwanza on will be on Friday, January 18, 2013.

On Thursday the commission will conduct the meeting in Lilongwe City and wind up the week with meetings in Mwanza and Likoma.

Mwafulirwa says in the statement that the meetings will be starting at 9.00Am in the morning at district and city council chambers. The Commission has set up three teams led by Commissioners which means we will be able to cover three districts in a day.

He says during the public hearings, the Commission will be getting views of the public and stakeholders on the ward boundaries that were produced following the Electoral Commission Amendment Bill of 2010.

These maps were drawn basing on award re-demarcation exercise that took place in 2010 following an amend to the Electoral Commission Act which sought to stipulate the number of wards the Commission may determine for the purpose of Local Government Elections.

The amendment says that each constituency should have two wards except for Blantyre and Lilongwe cities which can have not more than 30 wards, Mzuzu City not more than 15 while Zomba City cannot go beyond 10 wards.

Through the exercise, the number of ward reduced from 861 to 444 wards nationwide.

Mwafulirwa appealed to all stakeholders and members of the public to take advantage of the meetings saying that the commission will not tolerate views on the maps for the wards once the time allocated is passed.

The commission also announced recently that it will not conduct demarcation of constituencies because of time constraints. This means the 2014 parliamentary elections will  be conducted in the current 193 constituency.

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