The National Registration Bureau (NRB) has finally heeded the Legal Affairs Committee of Parliament’s call by opening registration centres in areas where Malawi Electoral Commission (MEC) is conducting voter registration.
The Legal Affairs Committee made the request a week ago when the Bureau’s chief Mackson Somanje appeared before the committee in Lilongwe.
For example, Karonga district which is among the seven districts of the first phase of voter registration exercise, 11 registration centres have been opened to pave way for those who cannot go to the District Council to register.
Speaking in an interview, the Bureau’s spokesperson Norman Fulatira said his office has responded positively to the Legal Affairs Committee of parliaments request to have national ID registration centres closer to people to enable them register.
“Our office is interested to have every eligible Malawians registered so that they in turn exercise their constitutional right to vote. That is why we have deployed our officers in various centres where MEC is conducting its voter registration exercise,” Fulatira said.
Asked whether his committee is now happy with NRB’s urgent response, the chairperson for Legal Affairs Committee Kezzie Msukwa expressed worry over NRB’s delay, saying it is now a week since voter registration exercise began.
“While we commend NRB for heeding the call, we feel there are some people who might not register because they did not have an opportunity to register at the District Council due to distance. My hope is that there will be room for extension to make up for the lost days,” Msukwa said.
However, MEC spokesperson Sangwani Mwafulirwa said the initial arrangement is that after the national ID mass registration exercise, everyone goes to the DC’s office or any designated post office to register.
“As MEC we feel the remaining seven days are enough for people to register for IDs. Therefore, my appeal is that people should utilize this chance to register otherwise we cannot extend the registration exercise,” Mwafulirwa said.
Mary Nkhwazi of Malema Two village who has registered with both NRB and MEC was all smiles, saying the coming in of NRB has eased the situation.
In Karonga, NRB centres have been placed in all the district’s 10 Wards and Nyungwe Post Office.
The first phase of voter registration which started on April 4 is underway up to April 17 in Chitipa, Karonga, Salima, Dedza, Blantyre, Chikwawa and Nsanje districts.