MEC settles long-standing boundary dispute

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The Malawi Electoral Commission (MEC) in Mzuzu has finally settled the two-and-half year-old dispute over the boundary between Masasa and Msongwe Wards.

The commission clarified that all electoral activities in Mzuzu City will abide by the boundaries depicted in maps provided by the Mzuzu City Council.

The decision was made at a closed door meeting held at Mzuzu City Council on Wednesday and was attended by councillors of both wards Judith Chiume of Msongwe Ward and Masasa Ward’s Yonah Mkandawire.

Mzuzu City Council and MEC officials, MEC’s Regional Elections Officer for the North Tenson Singini explained that MEC had not developed any new Ward boundaries since 2014.

“The boundaries on the City Council maps are the ones that will be used until the next demarcation exercise takes place. This exercise can only be done in 2020 once new population statistics on Mzuzu City are released from the 2019 Population and Housing Census,” Singini said.

Earlier, the Masasa Ward Councillor, Mkandawire explained that the long-standing dispute was compounded by the traditional leaders who were refusing to abide by the Council’s boundaries in implementing development activities.

“There is no issue here. The only problem is that the chiefs, especially Chief Abel in Masasa wants the whole village to benefit from the MASAF Programme. But only a few selected, vulnerable people can participate in the Programme.

“These Chiefs confuse the village boundaries with ward boundaries and they do not know that here in town, ward boundaries prevail over the village boundaries,” said Mkandawire.

Both Chiume and Mkandawire expressed satisfaction with the response from Singini and agreed to work with MEC to civic educate block leaders and chiefs from Masasa and Msongwe Wards on the proper ward boundaries.

Mkandawire, however, asked   MEC to consider moving the satellite polling centre for Msongwe Ward which is currently at Masasa Clinic away, as it is too close to Masasa School which is a polling center for Masasa Ward in order to avoid tension between communities from the two Wards that emanates from voting in different Wards at visible range.

At the end of the meeting which lasted approximately two hours, MEC agreed to consider a proposal by the Msongwe Ward Councillor Judith Chiume to relocate the contentious polling centre at Masasa Clinic further into Msongwe at Kaligomba School.

Singini said that MEC would leave out issues of the  missing  beneficiaries of MASAF IV Project in the Wards, which had also been disturbed  and seen some bonafide beneficiaries losing out on participating in the Local Development Fund (LDF)  for the Public Works Programme under MASAF IV Project in 2016 and 2017.

The MEC leader promised to address the challenges caused by the introduction of Masasa Clinic satelite Centre before the start of voter registration in the City.

“The poling centre at Masasa Clinic was opened for convenience, it will be sad to note that the same Polling Centre is causing confusion.

“We will assess the new proposed site for the satellite polling centre. Changing of a polling centre is not easy since the polling centres were are already gazetted. But moving a satellite centre will be considered after we visit the school,” said Singini.

 

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