The National Initiative for Civic Education (NICE) Trust has revealed it will conduct public debates to prepare the voters in forthcoming by-elections.
Malawi Electoral Commission (MEC) is conducting by-elections on 7 October in Karonga’s Zgeba ward, Mbalachanda ward in Mzimba, Lifupa ward in Kasungu, Kande ward in Ntcheu and Lisanjala ward in Machinga. At constituency level, by-elections will be conducted in Blantyre North and Thyolo East constituencies.
Speaking in an interview on the sidelines of a regional meeting in nothern city of Mzuzu NICE national programmes manager Gray Kalindekafe said the voter and civic education provider will continue to promote issue based politics by creating a platform for citizens to interface with their prospective leaders through public debates.
“The citizen voice is very important in a democracy. NICE will conduct several public debates prior to the by-elections to allow people to interact with their prospective councilors and MPs as was the case with the May 20 tripartite elections,” said Kalindekafe.
“We will also go flat out using all available means to mobilize people to go and vote in the areas where the by-elections are taking place. During the tripartite elections, we employed a lot of strategies to mobilize people. We expect to do the same this time around so that there should be a good turnout,” he said.
Kalindekafe also revealed that NICE will change its approach to civic education shifting from civic education that only provides awareness to that which is empowering and transformative in nature.
“This type of civic education will go a long way to contribute towards changing the people’s mindset and help to exonerate them from socio-cultural and political straightjacket. They will become confident in themselves and patriotic in their communities and country as a whole.
“We will also endevour to contribute towards moving parliament closer to the people through the facilitation of the establishment of constituency citizen’s forums. These initiatives will also provide a platform for opening up channels for communication between MPs and their constituents for enhanced dialogue, mutual trust and collaboration,” said Kalindekafe.
“This will ensure that powers of the legislative branch of government will truly be representative of the people and their aspirations and will support measures that promote constitutional provisions that seek to establish and enhance representative democracy in which people can be said to speak through their elected leaders.”
Five people will be battling out in Karonga’s Zgeba ward where two independents will contest against Malawi Congress Party, Peoples Party and Democratic Progressive Party candidates. Mbalachanda ward in Mzimba has attracted the interest of three candidates – PP, DPP and an independent.
In other by-elections, Kasungu’s Lifupa ward will be competed amongst DPP, MCP, UDF, PP and an independent where as in Kande ward in Ntcheu, the battle is among seven candidates including Davie Kachingwe of the disbanded New Labour Party.
UDF, PP, DPP’s candidates will compete alongside six independents in Machinga’s Lisanjala ward.