Issue of handouts not complicated – ACB

The Malawi Anti-Corruption Bureau (ACB) says the issue of political handouts is straightforward and not complicated as people may put it.

Speaking in an interview during voter education meetings at T/A Chikho in Ntchisi, on 15 April, Public Education Officer at MEC Chifundo Sohaya said people should be able to differentiate between a handout and a gift.

A woman voting during the sensitisation event

The meetings have been organised by the Malawi Electoral Commission (MEC) and will be conducted in all the T/As to educate the electorates on polling exercise and handouts.

He noted that most people do not understand what a handout is and they end up being afraid to get anything from politicians even if they are not presented as handouts.

“People should understand that a handout is a form of bribe where a politician will give something to a voter with the intention to be voted in power while a gift is given just to help the recipient without expecting anything back,” said Sohaya.

According to Sohaya, the act has not been put in place with the intention to rob off the chiefs’ powers since the politicians have not been exempted from exercising cultural practices such as giving money or food items during funerals or any other social engagement.

“Politicians should not run away from giving what they a supposed to give in the name of handouts, we only advise chiefs and all the people including the politicians themselves to avoid making gifts and donations as campaign tool and if they do so they will face the arm of the law,” he said.

Boyson Gwede, one of the villagers who attended the meeting expressed appreciation to MEC for enlightening them with important issues such as how to vote and on the issue handouts.

“We have learnt a lot and we now know how it is going to be like on the voting day and on the issue of handouts we are now cleared we understand exactly what a handout is,” said Gwede.

According to the act, giving out party materials or money to people who have conducted a certain task for a smooth running of a campaign meeting is not form of handout.

On the other hand, giving out money or any other gift to random people with the intention to be voted into power is clear definition of handout and if caught the perpetrator if found guilty in the court of law will be fined or imprisoned.