Women Legal Resource Centre (WOLREC) is optimistic that the commencement of the new Political Parties Act which among others prohibit distribution of handouts to sway voters will help level the playing field and benefit more women and youth aspirants who for long time have been victims of handouts.
WOLREC Project Officer Evance Phiri made the remarks on Friday in Neno when closing a three days training for Ligowe Young Women Action Group (YWAG) on improving capacity and confidence of young women to enlist and participate actively in political parties of their choice.
Phiri said women and youth for ages have been discouraged to participate actively in politics because of handout incentives, a syndrome that was favouring the rich and those who have been in politics for long time because they have donors where they get material support during campaign period.
According to Phiri, most women and youth are not employed or don’t have big businesses hence the issue based campaign will attract them to contest and win in the forthcoming elections because people will elect leaders based on issues rather than handouts.
“As WOLREC we are advocating for a campaign that is based on issues, sustainable development, voters should completely ignore those aspiring for political position but are wooing them with money and other incentives. We want parties to be in forefront to civic educate their followers to deceased from handouts,” said Phiri.
Phiri therefore, urged Ligowe YWAG members to report the practice if they found a politician giving handouts to people in their areas.
The Political Parties Act came into force on December 1, 2018, and if properly followed will see candidates or political parties found swaying voters through handouts being convicted, and face a fine of up to K10m or five years in prison.
Commenting on the trainings, Phiri said WOLREC in partnership with CMD has established 24 Young Women in Action Groups (YWAGs) in Neno, Nsanje, Dowa, Ntchisi, Mzimba and Rumphi as a discussion platform for politics and elections processes.
He added that the groups consist of 30 to 40 young women from DPP, UDF, MCP, UTM and PP.
Chairperson for Ligowe WYAG Patricia George said the coming in of the Young Women in Action Politics (YwAP) project in Ligowe has changed their understanding of politics.
She said since they started receiving trainings from WORLEC, some members in her groups have been given leadership positions in their respective political parties ranging from Youth Wing leaders, youth directors and two others will contest in the forthcoming elections as councillors for Ligowe ward.
Speaking on behalf of other political party officials who were invited during the trainings, MCP Chairperson for Neno South Anthony Chimpweya said apart from encouraging the youth to take leadership position in politics, the project is also promoting peace and tolerance among political parties because the project is liaising with all parties in the district and the formation of the YWAG groups contains equal members from the five targeted political parties.
“Through these trainings, we are learning together modern politics of issue based campaign which discourages name-calling and castigations,” added Chimpweya.
The project is also targeting college youth wings and young female politicians from four tertiary institutions; LUANAR, The Polytechnic, Chanco and Mzuni.