Despite delayed supply of materials to some registration centres, registration of eligible voters under phase eight has started on a positive note in Mzuzu as many people registered on the first day of the exercise.
This is according to Malawi Electoral Commission’s District Elections Clerk for Mzuzu City Pilirani Simukonda.
However, visits to some centres such as Katoto Primary School and Nambo Primary School revealed that there were less than ten people at a time waiting their turn to register to vote.
But Simukonda explained that people should not confuse the low patronage with low voter registration turnout. She explained that the few queues are a result of the high speed of processing the registration by the Biometric Voter Registration (BVR) kits and not necessarily an indication that people are not coming to register.
“If you talk of patronage, you will not be finding a lot of people at the centres because the process is just so fast, people are just spending about a minutes at the centres. So you won’t be finding a queue unless they are registering for the NRB ID.
“More than 270 have registered at most of the centres. So it has started well. Problems on the first day are inevitable, some of the centres did not have enough materials so we were going around supplying them but by tomorrow we expect that everything will be smooth,” said Simukonda.
He added that although some centres did not have gensets and stationery, the problems were rectified quickly.
According to Simukonda, at the close of day one of voter registration, Mzuzu stadium registered 271, St Michaels Centre registered 231 while Zambezi Evangelical Church registered 187 people, an indicator that the registration had started on a good noted as compared to experience from other districts.
Further observatory visits at some of the registration centres revealed that the centres were monitored by political party representatives from Malawi Congress Party (MCP) and Democratic Progressive Party (DPP).
On the party monitors, Simukonda explained that although MCP had submitted names of their monitors very late, the MEC office in Mzuzu was able to send the names of the MCP monitors to the registration centres before the start of the exercise.
Meanwhile, Mzimba North Member of Parliament for the Agnes Nyalonje held a political rally aimed at mobilizing youth and traditional leaders to register in the voter registration exercise. In an exclusive interview after the rally, Nyalonje called on male youth to register.
“It is extremely important for every citizen of this country to exercise the right to vote and in order to be able to do so they must register and in Mzimba North Constituency the registration has opened, today, for two weeks.
“So the message was to everybody to especially the male youth. They will talk and come to meetings but they will not register. So we want them to take charge, because this country belongs to the youth,” said Nyalonje.
The MP also appealed to traditional leaders to show umunthu by taking a lead role in encouraging all people with disabilities to go and register to vote in the voter registration exercise.
Phase eight of the voter registration exercise started on October 27 and runs to 9 November 2018 in Nkhata Bay, Likoma, Mzuzu City and Mzimba and presents a last chance for the country to meet the targeted 9 million registered voters by the end of the exercise.
Statistics from MEC indicate that the voter registration is on course with the number of registered voters coming to 6, 264, 183 against the projected 7, 745, 095 representing, 81 percent registration of eligible voters.