Centre for Multiparty Democracy (CMD) has urged political party leaders canvassing for votes for their candidates not to import violence into the constituency, saying violence will disrupt the ongoing campaign and discredit the results of the by-election.
CMD executive director Kizito Tenthani made the call on Thursday at Maghemo secondary school during the multiparty liaison committee (MPLC) meeting his institution co-organised with Karonga District Peace Committee to review and preview the current electoral calendar.
Tenthani noted that so far, if reports and comments from district, constituency political and traditional leaders are anything to go by, it is evident that the campaign is being conducted peacefully.
He said: “Politics is all about development. That is why we hold elections to democratically elect capable leaders to initiate development. But for people to elect theses leaders, they have to compete through winning formulas via issue based campaign without violence.
“Therefore, regional and national party leaders who come to campaign for their candidates should not import violence that will eventually mar the elections’ results”.
Tenthani further appealed to the eight candidates to desist from handouts, saying the tendency encourages winning candidates to abuse public resources to recover money lost during campaign.
He has since called upon authorities to reinforce the Political Parties Act of 2018 to punish everyone found inducing voters through handouts.
Paramount Chief Kyungu of Chitipa and Karonga echoed Tenthani’s sentiments, saying it would be wise if the money used during campaign to induce voters was used to rehabilitate roads, bridges and boreholes in the area to benefit everyone.
However, in a recent interview, the registrar of political parties Chikumbutso Namelo said politicians are taking advantage of the ungazetted law to woo voters through handouts.
“We will soon write the Minister of Justice to engage political parties represented in Parliament on that law before gazetting it. And again, we will source resources to sensitise the electorates through civic education,” he said.
Taking his turn during the meeting, the Malawi Electoral Commission (MEC) regional elections officer Diverson Makwete reminded the competing candidates to follow the electoral code of conduct, saying the long arm of the law will take its course to everyone found violating the electoral laws.
Makwete also urged political party and traditional leaders to mobilise people to vote en-masse and beat the Karonga Central by-election voting rate which was at 85 percent.
Karonga district MPLC chairperson David Gondwe hailed candidates and political parties in the district for democratically maintaining peace and coexistence during campaign so far, saying that is mature democracy which entails peaceful coexistence.
Karonga Northwest has about 53, 000 voters ready to elect their candidate out of the eight contestants to replace the fallen DPP Member of Parliament James Kamwambi who died last month of covid 19.