Malawians in diaspora urged to start lobbying for voting right

Happy Kayuni

Political analysts in the country have urged Malawian nationals living abroad to start lobbying for a right to vote during General Elections.

The call comes a day after Parliament passed an amendment to the Malawi Citizenship Act that will enable Malawians to have dual citizenship.

Speaking in an interview, Chancellor College based political analyst Happy Kayuni urged Malawians in diaspora to utilize the opportunity and push for their right to vote.

“Through the use of social media Malawians abroad can mobilize themselves and form an association that can now start lobbying authorities of their right to vote in elections,” said Kayuni.

Kayuni said: “Political parties in the country should also help Malawians living abroad in lobbying for their right to vote as the development will also grant an opportunity to the parties to sell their manifestos to the Malawians in diaspora”.

He said some countries in Africa have benefited a lot from the opportunity as their citizens living abroad are actively participating in the affairs of their country.

Blantyre based social commentator, Humphreys Mvula commended Parliament for passing the dual citizenship bill saying Malawians living abroad will now have a chance to actively participate in the country’s developmental issues.

“Though the situation demands a holistic approach for Malawian citizens abroad to start voting, in future elections I think they can utilize the development to start lobbying for a voting right,” said Mvula.

Mvula observed that: “There are a lot of issues to be addressed like resources and electoral laws reforms so that Malawi Electoral Commission (MEC) can be mandated to register Malawian nationals abroad in readiness for polls”.

The country’s constitution and current electoral laws bar MEC from registering foreign nationals and conduct elections outside Malawi.

The amended section 16 of the Electoral Commission Act number 11 of 1998 states that: “It shall be right and Civic duty of every eligible citizen to present himself for registration as a voter and further shall have the right to verify with the commission or its officers that he has been registered and to request that any error or commission with respect to his registration be corrected”.