NICE impressed with Chitipa voter registration exercise

=The ongoing voter registration exercise in the Malawi’s northern district of Chitipa has impressed a number of observers including the Initiative for Civic Education (NICE) despite starting with difficulties in some places especially in Chitipa Wenya.

The Malawi Electoral Commission (MEC) launched the fifth phase of the registration exercise in Chitipa and some districts last week amid challenges especially in some areas in Wenya, forcing MEC authorities to hire community members to ferry registration materials on heads from the main road to the registration centers, moving a distance of about 15km.

This was so because the areas have no roads accessible by vehicles.  In the previous elections MEC was hiring a plane to ferry the materials.

The development resulted the exercise to start around 2 o’clock the following day.  But NICE officials say everything is now in order.

Voter registration in progress
Voter registration in progress

“We are very impressed with how MEC has handled the situation as we are talking now, everything is in order and people are flocking in large numbers to register in almost all centers in the district,” said Regional Civic Education Officer for the north, Enock Chinkhuntha whose team had been mentoring the exercise from the first day.

However, Chinkhuntha doubted whether the turn up will also be the same during voting exercise saying this time around, many people might be interested to access the voter’s registration Identity Card which is demanded by identification in banks and other institutions.

“It will take the seriousness of contesting political parties and other stakeholders to excite the electorates to participate in the voting exercise in large numbers to have free and fair elections.

“This may depend on the development initiatives they are to offer for the citizens, and assure the electorates that they would prioritise the interests of people rather than their personal needs, and remain in their areas even if they have been elected because many are losing trust in their representatives who disappoint them,” Chinkhuntha said.

The official has since advised the MEC authorities to ensure that their district officials make constant supervision in the registration centers to address some challenges that might arise during the exercise.

As of last week, most centers were experiencing problems with camera operators as many of them had no experience with professional cameras used resulting in bad images.

Meanwhile, NICE has embarked on massive civic education campaign across the northern region to woo people to register during the exercise and vote during the elections.

The registration exercise in Chitipa is expected to end October 28, and will be followed by the Karonga registration exercise expected to start on first November.

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