Prisoners describe Malawi civil society leaders as failures

Prisoners in Malawi’s northern border district of Karonga have described as failures civil society organizations accredited to conduct civil education on 2014 tripartite elections for failing to civic educate them on the forthcoming polls.

Speaking when they received radios from National Initiative for Civic Educational (NICE) one of the prisoners Jimmy Harawa said it is high time authorities stop regarding prisoners as useless people who could be denied access to any information at will.

“Just imagine since the time they started talking about elections, none of the accredited civil society organizations has ever visited this place to tell us what the tripartite is all about forgetting that we also have the right to vote for a leader of our choice,” said Harawa.

He added: “This is a clear sign that these people do not respect our right to vote which is a bad thing all together  because they are the same people who advocate for  human rights.”

Chinkhuntha giving radios to the prisoners..picture by Tiwonge Kumwenda
Chinkhuntha giving radios to the prisoners..picture by Tiwonge Kumwenda

Karonga Prison Station Officer Inspector Stain Mkandawire shared the prisoner’s concerns saying vote is as important as anyone’s vote in any election.

“ The prison here is taken as a bin where wastes are being thrown but these people also have the right to be given first-hand information through various activities because some are more educated than us who work here as such they should not be sidelined in civic and voter education,” said Mkandawire.

He then applauded NICE for the radios saying it will help prisoners to have access to some information on elections.

“As you know that prisoners do not go out to attend meetings on the elections and also people do not visit these place to give needed information on tripartite elections, these radios will be a good channel of information to them to turn in any time they want and have the message about the elections,” said  Mkandawire.

Meanwhile, Northern Regional National Initiative for Civic Education Officer Enock Chinkhuntha said their organization is making much effort for prisoners to have access to information on the 2014 tripartite elections.

“Prison is one of the disadvantaged place and inmates rarely get information on anything including on tripartite elections and we as NICE we are making what we can to make sure that they have access to information by distributing these free play radios,” said Chinkhuntha.

He added that their organization is about to introduce edutainment where prisoners will be engaged in different activities such as football so that they should get information though that.

“Yes we understand that few organizations take efforts to reach to the prisoners, but as an accredited organization we want to be different and entertain our friends in the prisons because they are our brothers and sisters on top of that they also have a right to vote,” said Chinkhuntha.

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