The Malawi Electoral Commission (MEC) says it is optimistic of reaching the set target in registering all eligible voters in Chikwawa as the fourth phase of voter registration is still under way in the district.
MEC chairperson Justice Dr Jane Ansah made the remarks on Tuesday after inspecting registration exercise in centers of Dyeratu, Makanga, St Mathews, Jombo and Makande in Chikwawa Central and Nkombedzi Constituencies respectively .
Dr Ansah said the higher turn out of voters in Chikwawa is an indication that the sensitisation campaigns the electoral body caried out in the district along side other Civil society organizations (CSOs) is bearing fruits.
” On the sixth day of voter registration here in Chikwawa we have already registered half of the projected number of people to be registered. This gives us hope that by the time we reach 29th of this month we shall have registered all eligible voters in the district, Ansah said,”.
Dr Ansah expressed satisfaction with the way party monitors and chiefs in the district are asissting the electoral body in identifying eligible voters. She said this has helped the electoral body not to register non Malawians although the district in which the registration process is currently taking place shares its boundaries with Mosambique in which Malawians are mixed up with foreign nationals.
However, it was reported that at Makanga registration center in Chikwawa Central constituency chiefs were demanding money amounting to K500 for them to stamp on the National Registration Forms. This made people without National IDs to be sent back without registering.
The MEC Chairperson, however, promised party monitors that no one will be denied registering as voters as the Commission is working in corroboration with District Commissioners in ensuring that chiefs are not demanding money from people that need to register for National IDs first before registering as voters.
Prior to the registration exercise MEC intensified awareness campaigns through road shows and meetings with chiefs in order to woo more people to register.Other NGOs such as the National Initiative for Civic Education (NICE) Trust and and Center for Development Communications (CDC) also intensified campaigns which might have helped in wooing more people to register.
The Malawi Electoral Commission has set up 161 registration centers in Chikwawa and it targets to register over 475 thousand voters.
* Elijah Phompho – MEC Stringer