Embattled chairperson of the Malawi Electoral Commission(MEC), Jane Ansah has urged traditional leaders to desist from endorsing presidential candidates during the campaign period for the July 2 fresh presidential elections.
Ansah said this in announcing the official launch of the campaign period on Saturday.
“Traditional leaders have a crucial role in ensuring that elections are held in free and fair environment as they have a huge influence on their subjects” said Ansah.
She added: “Chiefs should not create no-go-zones or endorse political candidates as they are expected to be non-partisan when discharging their duties”.
Ansah has reminded traditional leaders that they have the duty to report to the Multiparty Liaison Committees any candidate, political party or supporters not adhering to the code of conduct for political parties and candidates.
She added that in recognizing the traditional leaders’ role, MEC — in consultation with the chiefs and various electoral stakeholders — developed a code of conduct for the traditional leaders.
“The code of conduct gives benchmarks against which the conduct and involvement of traditional leaders in elections can be measured.
“Chiefs are not supposed to take part in active politics, should not create no-go-zones or endorse candidates — they are supposed to be impartial and non-partisan in their work.
“To that effect, traditional leaders at any level can neither be monitors of political parties nor candidates.”
She reminded the chiefs that they are expected to adhere health, safety and preventative regulations during the official campaign period.
They are also not allowed to receive cash, goods or any material with a view to influence people to vote for a particular candidate or party or to stop people from voting for candidates of their choice.
“Here, I am referring to receipt of gifts with a view to influence subjects to favour a certain candidate or political party. Such behavior is corruption and punishable by law [and] such matters shall be referred to the relevant authorities like the Anti Corruption Bureau for prosecution.”
Ansah also had words for the Civil Society Organisations (CSO), saying they play a very critical role in the electoral process in the areas of civic and voter education as well as domestic election observation.
She said MEC’s expectation, and indeed that of the larger Malawian public, is that CSOs will scale up the efforts to motivate the voters to turn up in large numbers on the polling day.
“The Commission further expects them to observe their code of conduct by remaining neutral and apolitical.”
She disclosed that during the campaign period, the District Commissioners will have registers in which to record notifications for campaign meetings and venues which should reflect the legal requirement of first come first serve basis.
“The Commission would like to increase transparency and, therefore, CSOs should also monitor the utilisation and adherence to this facility. If you find that there is non-conformity please inform the Commission immediately.
“This should also include the adherence to guidelines on prevention of coronavirus.”
She urged all registered voters to keep their voter certificates safe and turnout in large numbers.
MEC has also urged political parties to develop innovative ways of reaching out to the electorate amid the Covid-19 pandemic.
The official campaign period for the fresh presidential elections will run from May 2, 2020 and end on June 30, 2020 at 6 AM.Follow and Subscribe Nyasa TV :