MEC launches by-elections in Mzimba: Litmus test for DPP, PP

The Malawi Electoral Commission (MEC) has launched by-elections for Mzimba south west and Mzimba Central constituencies which have been slated for 9 October.

The by-elections will, by any means, be a litmus test for the Democratic Progressive Party and the People’s Party.

The DPP is now out of government following death of late President Bingu wa Mutharika, while the People’s Party is in power for the same reason.

Rev Chinkwita-Phiri flanked by other commissioners

Mzimba Central fell vacant after the death of Prof. Donton Mkandawire, while Mzimba South West became vacant following the ascendance of Khumbo Kachali to the office of vice president.

Speaking during the launch of the By-elections at Kapiri teacher development centre (TDC) MEC commissioner Emmanuel Chimkwita Phiri said the electoral body  wants free, fair and credible elections.

Electoral calendar

Registration of voters will start on 13th to 17th August, 2012.

He said MEC conducted registration of voters exercise during the 2009 parliamentary and presidential general elections and during the 2010 local government polls which were later called off.

The commissioner also stressed that there will be no transfers during this by-election as people from other constituencies are not allowed to register.

He urged political parties and independent candidates to engage monitors who are able to read and write to ensure that all electoral procedures are being followed and done in a transparent manner.

The commission is therefore asking all political parties to submit names of monitors to the constituency returning officer on 6th August, 2012.

Civic and voter education
The commissioner said MEC in conjunction with civil society organizations (CSO)

He said this registration exercise would give an opportunity to those who did not register in the past exercises and those who did not attain voting age but are now 18 years and eligible to register and vote.

As one way of reducing cases of voter apathy which marred previous elections.

The commissioner also urged traditional and faith based leaders to civic educate their followers and urge them to actively participate in all electoral processes.

During the meeting, CSO bemoaned short period for conducting civic and voter education which they said might lead to few people participating during the electoral process.

National Initiative for Civic Education(NICE) regional civic education manager for the north Enock Chinkhuntha said the time was too short to mobilize communities and ensure that they actively participate during the elections.

Campaign and voting

The commission says presentation of nomination forms to the constituency returning officer will be done on 31st August, 2012. All candidates are required to pay K100, 000 to MEC as nomination fees.

According to the electoral calendar, the official campaign period starts on 6th September and end on 7th October.

”During this period I urge you to refrain from inflammatory language because this cause violence,” he said.

”During campaign dwell  on issues and facts in order to attract people to vote for you. Let us refrain from hate speech, despising and threatening one another.”

Polling day has been slated for October 9 and the official announcement of results will be done by the Malawi Electoral Commission on 10th October.

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