Malawi Electoral Commission (MEC) Chairperson Justice Dr Chifundo Kachale has expressed concern over the low turnout of new voters in the current voter registration and verification exercise for the November by-elections
He was speaking when he inspected progress of the voter registration and verification exercise in registration centers of Mchacha, Bodza and Mitondo primary schools in Makhwira South Ward on Friday where it transpired that only few new registrants had been registered.
The MEC chair said the development could be as a result of many people in the country still not being able to have national Identity Cards as it is currently being done at the District Commissioner (DC) Offices and Post offices.
Justice Kachale could, however, not disclose if the Commission intends to place National Registration Bureau (NRB) Staff in the registration centers to process national IDs for the new registrants saying the Commission is currently reflecting on the matter.
He added that the Commission experienced challenges during the Fresh Presidential Elections when it was processing national IDs for new registrants through the NRB staff who were placed at registration centers as political parties disputed the eligibility of the registrants which necessitated the Court to halt the process.
Dr Kachale was, however, optimistic that the electoral body shall still manage to register new voters for the November by-elections since there are still some days to go before winding up of the voter registration and verification exercise.
“On our part as the Commission we have ensured that we put everything else in place to make sure that people in the country register and verify their names to take part in the forthcoming by elections.
“So far we have not encountered any challenge, we can only urge people in the country to utilize this chance particularly in this ward to choose a leader who shall be initiating development at the council level,” said Kachale.
On his part, District Commissioner for Chikwawa Ali Phiri urged people in the district not to wait till an election for them to apply for their national IDs saying registration for national IDs is continuous hence people can register at their convenient time to prevent them from being disenfranchised during election.
Makhwira South ward became vacant following death of the ward councillor for the area Manek Ganet who was accidentally shot by police when disagreements arose during a meeting which was meant to settle land compensation wrangles for people who were relocated to pave way for the Thabwa-Fatima road which is under construction.
The Malawi Electoral Commission launched the 10th November by-elections on 5th September.
The polls will be held in the constituencies of Mangochi West, Mangochi North, Phalombe North, Lilongwe North West and Karonga central as well as in Makhwira South ward with the voter registration and verification exercise to run from the 14th to 27 September.