The Malawi Electoral Commission (MEC) has warned aspirants in the forthcoming local and parliamentary elections to desist from dirty campaign.
The official campaign period will officially be opened on March 19 and it will end on May 19 this year.
MEC commissioner Moffat Banda advised a cross section of aspirants drawn from various wards and constituencies of Balaka district during a vetting exercise for ballot paper templates to desist from practicing filthy politics but rather concentrate on issue based campaign.
“It is my appeal to all aspiring candidates to refrain from character assassination. I challenge you all too articulate real issues in order to attract voters,” Banda said.
He further said that any candidate who will be caught up in any act likely to jeopardize the whole electoral process will be dealt with accordingly.
Among other things, Banda said that the new Political Parties Act restricts aspirants from giving handouts hence the vice has to stop.
“The law stipulates that handouts is deemed to influence voters choice so candidates are only advised to distribute party materials and a reasonable amount of money meant for transport and food allowance,” he explained.
Banda said he was impressed at the end of the meeting considering the turnout of aspirants and the outcome of the meeting.
In her reaction to the exercise, DPP shadow MP for Balaka west, Bertha Mackenzie Ndebele he exercise was fine as most of the outstanding issues were addressed and questions most of the questions answered.
“For instance, my photo on the ballot paper was a bit dark but now it has been corrected,” she said.
She however said that most of the attendees were left in the dark as it was not clear on the description between handouts and gifts.
“As Malawians, we are known to have a giving culture on funerals and other engagements. So how can one know that this money is given in good faith or its intention is to woe voters,” she wondered.
The aspiring Member of Parliament thinks the law came into effect before addressing a number of areas including awareness to thaw masses.
The new political parties law indicates that if any candidate is caught giving handouts, the culprit will face a fine of K5 million and a ten year jail term.