Centre for Human Rights Education and Assistance (CHREAA) has urged political parties to make simple and clear manifestos for inmates in the country’s prisons to enable them make informed decisions ahead of the 2019 Tripartite Elections.
CHREAA was accredited by Malawi Electoral Commission (MEC) to conduct voter and civic education during the 2009 tripartite elections in 28 prisons in Malawi.
Executive Director of CHREAA Victor Mhango said prisoners have right to access electoral information and vote but literacy levels are high among inmates hence political parties have to produce relevant manifestos to inmates.
“Any prisoner has a right to vote and to access information on elections as stipulated in constitution. I believe that political parties should make sure that they their manifestos are localised and easy. They should be friendly to inmates and in the vernacular languages if possible.
This will allow inmates to participate fully in the elections.” said Mhango.
He added that CHREAA will be mobilising and conducting awareness campaigns to all eligible prisoners to access information on electoral process.
“Also we are sensitising prisoners on their right to vote. We are encouraging them to reduce the number of null and void votes.”
Despite prisoners having the right to vote, the laws of Malawi do not allow political parties to campaign in prisons. Moreover, civic and voter education is inadequate in the country’s prisons due to among others resources.
In 2014, CHREAA reached out to over 10,000 prisoners across the country with civic and voter education.
During that time, the organisation provided inmates with political parties’ manifestos with names of all aspiring candidates in their respective areas.
CHREAA is a non-governmental organization for the promotion and protection of human rights and making justice accessible to marginalized communities.