MEC failure to recruit people with sign language expertise exposes gap in Kasungu by elections

Sideling  people living with disabilities in the recruitment of staff to administer the process of electioneering in Malawi  exposed gaps during the Bunda ward by-election in Kasungu over the weekend – Sunday.

MEC clerk Linda Lungu checking names of disable men in voter roll book.
MEC clerk Linda Lungu checking names of disable men in voter roll book.

Malawi Electoral Commission is holding by elections in Kasungu to fill the vacancy created by a Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) councilor late Bernard Theu who passed on in July this year.

His passing on left people of his area without no-one to present grievances to the Kasungu Municipal Council about the development challenges in their area.

Drama ensured at Kasungu LEA school the center of the by elections as two young men who could communicate with signs toiled for over an hour in order to get a response from MEC clerks on what they wanted as the two parties could not understand each other.

The two young dump men thronged the area on October 17 which was the closing day of the registration and voter verification alongside their other friend who was also dump.

The three were enquiring to know if their names still existed in the voter roll so that they effectively vote during the by elections on November 1.

But it was difficult to hear one another as none of the clerks knew sign language.

It had to take this other third dump man who wrote with a stick on the ground to enable  MEC officials and the security personnel know what they wanted.

MEC Clerks struggled to check in the voter book before telling them that their names were not appearing at the center.

The three men however looked not satisfied as they shook their heads before they left meaning they were not happy with the service.

The situation forced the onlookers to talk ill of the clerks and those living with disabilities as they took time to assist them.

One MEC Clerk Linda Lungu confessed in an interview they had a toll order to interplate the sign language.

Malawi Congress party chairman Maurice Chikafa  appealed to the electoral body that next time should  consider recruiting those with sign language expertise to avoid similar embarrassments.

Returning officer for Kasungu Isaac Phiri in an interview confessed that his office overlooked at their importance but pledged to include them in their near future elections.

Meanwhile,Moses Mkandawire who is Executive Director of the  Church and Society of the C.C.A.P Synod of Livingstonia has accused MEC of overlooking at the disability in the byelections  saying on many occasions his office has engage the electoral body on dangers of sidelining those with disability and  was shocked to learn this happened.

He said each time there are elections, the   electoral body must remember to recruit those with disability such as the albinos, visual and hearing impairment among others.

Said Mkandawire: “It is unfortunate to learn that MEC behaved in this way by violating the rights of those people living with disability because we the human rights bodies have engaged them before on issues of recruiting the people living with disability,”

He said MEC should embrace a policy of inclusiveness to ensure that those living with disability feel not segregated in the development of the country  as they too are citizens of Malawi.

Caption: police personnel and MEC officials follow proceedings with interest to see what a person with disability has written outside Kasungu LEA school

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