Eight people have collected nomination forms as they look to contest for President Lazarus Chakwera’s former parliamentary seat.
The candidates in Lilongwe North West Constituency will be seeking to replace Chakwera, who resigned as MP for the area prior to the 23rd June presidential polls.
The contestants comprise five independent candidates as well as representatives of the ruling Malawi Congress Party (MCP), main opposition Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) and Mbakuwaku Movement for Democracy (MMD).
Speaking in an interview on Monday, Malawi Electoral Commission (MEC) Constituency Returning Officer for Lilongwe North West, Sungeni Kawinga, described the figure as a reflection of how democracy has matured in the country.
“This is a very encouraging number and gives people enough options on the ballot paper should they proceed to present the papers to MEC which could possibly translate into a higher turnout at the polls as these candidates have huge followers,” said Kawinga.
She also revealed that the list includes 3 women who are all standing as independents.
This is in sharp contrast to the last three by-elections which the commission organized and had no women on the ballot paper.
The development has since been welcomed by women’s rights activist, Barbra Banda, who described it as encouraging towards bridging the gender equality gap.
“It is very encouraging to see women collect nomination forms and shows that they are ready to run the affairs of the country. However, it is important that the playing field should be levelled so these women stand a chance as their male counterparts,” said Banda.
According to the electoral calendar for the 10th November by-elections, MEC will start receiving nomination forms on 7th October.
The candidates are: