All the 447 eligible voters at Mulanje Prison got registered during a voter registration exercise on Tuesday and Wednesday.
Mulanje Prison Station Officer (SO) Joseph Kumimba said in an interview on Wednesday the hundred percent voter turnout was reached due to a communication strategy the prison used to woo all the inmates to register during the voter registration exercise.
“When we were told that the Malawi Electoral Commission would be holding the voter registration exercise at the prison we engaged with the inmates sensitizing them on the importance of registering as voters as aside being convicts they have a democratic right to vote,” said Kumimba.
He said the prison had managed to reach a hundred percent voter registration turnout because the facility has no convicts under the age of 18.
Kumimba added that officials had made stringent measures to ensure that those that did not qualify to register as voters did not register during the exercise.
“We have some convicts that are mentally retarded and close to eleven Mozambican nationals and we made sure that these did not register during the exercise,” he said.
Enoch Mchelenga one of the convicts hailed the Malawi Electoral Commission for bringing the right to vote closer to the inmates.
“This exercise has given us confidence that aside being convicts, the government cares for our constitutional right to vote,” said Mchelenga.
He however condemned the attitude of some citizens who are not willing to participate in the election.
“Voting gives us the power to exercise our right to democratic governance. It is very discouraging that people that have better access to voter civic education messages are shunning to register as voters while us (the prisoners) understand that voting is a universal human right,” he said.
Chifundo Chimwala District Elections Clerk in Mulanje said that the voter turnout at the prison was very encouraging.
“These prisoners did not have access to the voter civic education messages that the masses are receiving yet they turned in their large numbers to register as voters,” said Chimwala.
Mulanje district projects to register around 360,000 voters by the end of the fifth phase of the exercise and according to the District Commissioner, Charles Makanga, the voter registration data that the District Elections Supervisory Team is capturing shows the district is on the course to meeting its set target.
“The voter registration statistics that we have been capturing show that we are on course of meeting our projected registrants,” said Makanga.