The 2019 Presidential Debate task force has announced the change of format of the debates to allow for what it calls a level playing field and a national platform for all nine presidential candidates ahead of the highly anticipated May 21 2019 watershed polls.
Initially two debates were lined up but one more has been added and will be held on March 29, April 2 and April 5, 2019.
“This change is a result of overwhelming feedback from electoral stakeholders,” reads a statement released on Tuesday, signed by Media Institute of Southern Africa (Misa) Malawi chapter chairperson Teresa Ndanga.
The statements further said that as a way of ensuring quality of the debates as well as an opportunity for candidates to outline their vision for Malawi and defend their policies and manifestos, the presidential candidates will be divided into two groups.
The first group will debate on March 29 and the second on April 2 while the final debate will be held on April 5th.
Prior to the debates, all candidates will be asked to sign a pledge of non-violence.
The taskforce also confirmed to have communicated with all parties about the change of format during a meeting with senior party and candidate representatives held in Lilongwe on Monday, March 11, 2019.
The task force consists of MISA Malawi, Malawi Broadcasting Cooperation (MBC), Times Group, Zodiak Broadcasting Station (ZBS) and Civil Society Organisations including Centre for Multiparty Democracy (CMD), Democracy Works Foundation (DWF), Civil Society Agriculture Network (CISANET).
Other CSOs in the task force are the Catholic Commission for Justice and Peace (CCJP), Malawi Law Society (MLS), Public Affairs Committee (PAC), Voluntary Service Organization (VSO), National Initiative for Civic Education (NICE) Trust, and the National Democratic Institute (NDI).