National Initiative for Civic Education (NICE) Trust has expressed optimism towards facilitating a successful voter and civic education campaign ahead of the 2019 tripartite elections, part of its core obligation as a stakeholder to initiate the execution of a free and fair election in Likoma district.
The revelation was made on Saturday on a couple of strategies which the Trust [NICE] has so far put in place of implementing increased awareness to the citizenry across the Islands district on the forthcoming phase 8 of voter registration campaign expected to commence from 27 October up to 9 November this year.
According to NICE civic education officer for the Islands district, Patrick Chikoti, the organization is geared to fulfilling its responsibility saying it has started holding meetings with several stakeholders such as the religious leaders and politicians of various political parties existing on the Island.
He said in an interview that spreading the message will further the campaign to solidify peace and harmony among the fraternities thereby determining peaceful elections come 2019.
“Having learnt that the Malawi Electoral Commission (MEC) has started implementing its voter registration campaign in some parts of the country, we thought it wise as a core stakeholder to start notifying people in various parts of Likoma in advance to illuminate them and make them fully aware of this development to achieve huge turn up on this island when our 12 day turn of registering officially commences on 27 October up to 9 November 2018,” Chikoti articulated.
He further explained that NICE is targeting and encouraging the youths of voting age in various convergences to exercise their right to vote in the upcoming tripartite elections, adding, “They contribute massively to the population of the total population of Chizumulu and Likoma Islands.”
He said: “We also remind the youths that the voting age remains 18 years and above and those that have attained that age by the registration period must come forward and register since their participation is pivotal during the elections. So far, we have managed to visit students at Likoma secondary school reminding them of their rights and responsibilities during the electoral process.”
The Trust said it is committed to maximizing its functions in order to obtain overwhelming results after the electoral process. For instance, it will embark on a 360 degrees civic education strategy which will involve the organization reaching out to the masses within the circumferences of Likoma and Chizumulu.
The execution of this strategy on the right hand is precisely including the use of the social media such as Whatsapp, Facebook and other related modes of communication that will allow authorities to disseminate information with emphasis that it is worthwhile more especially to the youths who are more exposed and well conversant with the use of the smart gadgets such as android phones and personal computers.
On the other hand, Chikoti continued to say they will also employ the use of other modes of electronic media such as Likoma Community radio and other media outlets so that every person residing on the two islands is prepared to participate in the registration process.
He further pointed out that NICE will also engage some water vessels such as the boats and the Ships sailing on waters of lake Malawi to disseminate the information through flip charts and public awareness campaign strategy carrying sensitization messages whilst travelling to various ports of destination.
In making sure that NICE Trust is not alone, traditional leaders have also interposed in order to increase awareness among people of the Islands district as part of their commitment towards 2019 polls. Group Village Head (GVH) Chamba of Madimba village, Traditional Authority (T/A) Mkumpha 3, confidently stated that as chiefs, they have already started sensitizing people in their respective areas on the importance of voting in order to make sure that all eligible voters get registered.
“With Likoma Island, I don’t think that officials from MEC will face problems in carrying out their voter registration campaign because we have been doing this for several times now. We don’t usually face problems as far as people’s adherence to the development is concerned as it would be the case in other parts of the country. People are well civilized on these Islands and I assure you that we will be the first district to register a successive registration campaign as the process will be carried out efficiently,” said Chamba.
The traditional leader said chiefs carry out the role of standing as witnesses for those who have not duly registered as bona-fide Malawian citizens but have eventually reached the age of 18, to give support and get them registered and exercise their right to vote.
“This is part of their responsibility towards this initiative.”
He went on to say that apart from the organization of NICE, traditional leaders, are also coordinating various CBOs across Likoma and Chizumulu Islands to facilitate issues concerning the 2019 tripartite elections adding that they will not face problems in initiating the development.
One of the citizens from the district Mary Salingawo of Chilongola village in the same area said she is prepared and she is just waiting for registration day to come but encouraged those that think they have 18 years and above, to come in large numbers and get registered once the voter registration period has started in October and enable themselves eligible of casting their votes of choosing leaders of
their choice come 21 May 2019.
“If we come and get registered in large numbers once the process starts, the idea will do us good. I would like to plead with my fellow citizens to avoid shunning calls from our traditional leaders of enlightening us on the proceedings of the electoral process. The traditional leaders always encourage us to come forward and get registered, so let us all be obedient; those calls are for our common good,” she explained.
The first phase of voter registration for the 2019 tripartite election commenced on 26 June and will wrap up on 9 July with Kasungu, Kasungu Municipality, Salima and Dedza districts while Likoma Islands is in
phase 8 being the last phase to run from 27 October up to 9 November along with Nkhata Bay, Mzuzu City and Mzimba districts.