Malawi voter registration low turnout worries CHRR

Civil society activists say they are shocked with the low turn up in the first phase of the registration exercise which ends Monday and has since pleaded with the Malawi Electoral Commission (MEC) to extend.

Mtambo: There should be second phase of registration

Timothy Mtambo, executive director  of Centre for Human Rights and Rehabilitation (CHRR), said this after reports of wide spread voter registration apathy in Kasungu, Dedza and Salima.

“This has been a great flop, a disaster. MEC should think of extending the registration in the three districts. They should take the first phase as a pilot phase,” said Mtambo.

MEC spokesperson Sangwani Mwafulirwa said MEC chairperson Jane Ansah would be making a statement by Monday.

Mtambo said the election will not be free and fair if the turn up for voting will be low following the low turn up for the registration process.

“We are so shocked that the registration process has been very poor. We cannot expect a good election if people fail to register and vote,” said Mtambo.

He said there is need for intensified civic education to entice people to register and vote, saying some of the reasons for the low turn up are rampant corruption, slow development and cronyism and tribalism in government.

“People are disappointed with political leaders. They think there is no need to vote because of the unfulfilled promises, corruption and other things,” he said.

He said people are always put off when they hear that their leaders are stealing from the public coffers.

Malawi Congress Party  (MCP) president Lazarus Chakwera visited some registration centres in Dedza and told people to register enmasse in order to kick out the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) led government at the ballot box.

In  a letter to MEC, the rights group  states that the turnout  in the three districts has been “depressingly poor” rendering the registration exercise “a huge flop.”

“Surely, MEC has demonstrated to be unready to effectively carryb out the exercise across the country,” reads the letter.

It noted the cases of breakdown of  registration equipment in some registration centres and lack of mass sensitisation.

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