By Noel Mkwaila
Chairperson for Malawi Election Commission (MEC), Justice Dr. Chifundo Kachale, says he is dismayed with low participation of women in various elections that happen in the country despite different stakeholders exerting efforts to empower the women.
Kachale expressed the concern on Wednesday during a press briefing that was aimed at declaring official results for the parliamentary by-elections which took place on Tuesday this week in three constituencies of the country.
According to Kachale, despite the fact that it is within freedom and right of the women to voluntarily participate in the election as contesting candidates, it is not proper for the country to be having less or no women competing in various posts.
“For these by-elections, all two women candidates in Mangochi West constituency withdrew from the race making it an all men race. Their withdrawals come after they had even vetted the ballot paper templates.” he said.
Justice Kachale has therefore asked political parties to come up with strategies that will materialize 50-50 campaign as women have to be part of the decision teams.
Announcing the results, it has emerged that none of the ruling parties that featured candidates in the by-elections has managed to secure a seat in the August House.
Mavuto Bokosi who stood as an independent candidate has won the Phalombe North parliamentary seat with 8,256 votes defeating Justin Makowa of UTM party who got 3,804 among other contesters.
In Mangochi West Constituency, Reuben Kanyama who contested as an independent candidate has triumphed the race with 5,648 votes defeating his main contender, Simeon Harrison who stood as an independent candidate as well among other contesters.
UDF’s Idi Kalosi has won the Mangochi North East’s parliamentary seat with 9,898 votes, defeating Martin Nyengo who stood on independent ticket and Duncan Cassim of UTM.
However, Kachale says there are two major complaints the commission received from contesters that have proved to lack merit and evidence.
He says Martin Nyengo brought to MEC a handouts allegation from of the contesting candidates during the voting day while Simeon Harrison asked for a recount of the total vote cast saying some null and void votes were not properly looked into.
On the other hand, the Malawi Electoral Commission has appreciated people from the three areas where the by-elections were being held for turning out in a bit high note breaking the maximum turn out rate in the past by-elections that were being characterized by voter apathy.