By Temwa Mhone – MEC Stringer
Chiefs in Thyolo have expressed concern that long distance to registration centres for identity (ID) cards in the district is discouraging eligible voters without IDs from registering for fresh presidential elections.
The national ID is a requirement for one to register as a voter with Malawi Electoral Commission (MEC). In order to accommodate all eligible voters without the IDs, the commission in collaboration with National Registration Bureau (NRB) placed a team per ward to conduct national registration exercise.
However, chiefs in Traditional Authority (T/A) Changata in the district (Thyolo South West) bemoaned of long distances due to poor selection of the centres during a meeting with MEC commissioner Ambassador Yahaya Mmadi meant to inform them to mobilise subjects to register for fresh presidential elections slated for July 2 2020.
Thyolo is one of the districts in the second phase of voter registration exercise which started on April 27 2020 (Monday) through May 10 2020.
In his remarks, Group Village Head (GVH) Motheliwa said mobilisation efforts will not bear desirable fruits as centres with NRB staff are poorly positioned.
“You (MEC and NRB) could have consulted us first for a proper placement of NRB teams in wards to woo more voters to register. For a lot of people, they have to travel over 35 kilometres just to get the proof national registration. This is a setback that will lead to low turnout of these eligible voters. Bring more teams or reposition otherwise the registration will be low than required, ” lamented GVH Motheliwa.
GVH Kuweluza 2 said they should be allowed to recommend eligible voters without IDs to get the proof of national registration.
“We have been left out to recommend people to register. With these long distances, no one can accompany a registrant on this task. We know these people and this is harvesting period which is a priority than election,” he said.
In addressing the chiefs, Mmadi said they have noted the concerns and will strategise to ensure all eligible people register.
The second phase of voter registration is also under way in Rumphi, Likoma, Dowa, Lilongwe (district and city), Luchenza Municipality, Phalombe and Mulanje.