Malawi Electoral Commission (MEC) chairperson Jane Ansah has launched the campaign period for the 2020 fresh presidential elections and has told political parties to find innovative ways of reaching out to voters.
In a speech marking the launch of the campaign period, Ansah said candidates should follow proper procedures especially the Covid-19 preventative measures when booking venues and notifying the Police.
“With respect to the Coronavirus and various public health guidelines and restrictions in place, candidates will have to find other innovative ways to of reaching out to the electorate,” she said.
The MEC chairperson then warned political parties against using the campaign period to harass, humiliate, demonise, defame, intimidate and repress opponents.
She also told politicians that they will be arrested if found sponsoring the youths to indulge in violence, disrupt political rallies and do other unpalatable things.
Ansah said Malawians are looking forward to campaigns that will transform their lives and livelihood as well as strengthen the country’s democracy beyond individualism, ethnicity and regionalism.
“Parties and candidates have the responsibility to seriously address real issues, elaborate their manifesto, so that voters should judge them based on their ideas and on how they would resolve problems facing our nation today,” said Ansah.
On chiefs, Ansah said traditional leaders should not create no-go-zones or endorse candidates but are supposed to be impartial and non-partisan in their work in order to ensure that elections are held in a free and fair environment.
She also warned that any chief found receiving cash, goods or any material with a view to influence people to vote for a particular candidate or party or to stop people from voting for candidates of their choice will be reported to the Anti-Corruption Bureau for prosecution.
On Malawi Broadcasting Corporation, Ansah said the public broadcaster has promised to provide time slots for messages from all contesting candidates for free.
The fresh elections will be held on July 2 and electoral activities are continuing despite the Covid-19 pandemic since the Supreme Court refused to allow the commission to suspend activities and extend the period for holding the elections.
Currently, the commission is conducting voter registration and will receive nominations from candidates next week.