The Malawi Electoral Commission (MEC) has reiterated the need for voters to wear face masks or any clean cloth to cover the mouth and nose when going to polling centres.
This comes against the background of the misconception that there will be restrictions on the polling day to those who will not be in face masks.
In an interview, MEC director of media and public relations Sangwani Mwafulirwa said political parties and community leaders should help with sensitization messages on the need to comply with Presidential Task Force on Covid 19 preventive measures to avoid further spread of the pandemic.
“It should be noted that elections that are taking place in some parts of the country are not spared from the Covid-19 prevention measures. However, it is not a deterrent factor for voters not to vote because they don’t have a face mask. It is just a precautionary measure,” he said.
Mwafulirwa, has however, urged voters where possible to bring their own ball point pens on the polling day as yet another precautionary covid 19 measure.
This, is in corroboration with what Paramount Chief Kyungu of Chitipa and Karonga said recently at a Multiparty Liaison Committee (MPLC) meeting in Karonga district that voters should not be denied opportunity to exercise their constitutional right to elect a leader of their choice.
Kyungu, however, suggested that instead MEC should make sure that disposable face masks are provided to cater for those who will not have the same to give them an opportunity to cast their votes.
He said: “Let voters who cannot afford a face mask put on any clean cloth to cover their mouth and nose or else MEC should source disposable face masks.”
Meanwhile, a health governance commentator Maziko Matemba has advised both MEC and key electoral stakeholders to intensify messages to the general masses in areas where voting will take place so that there is total compliance to prevent the global pandemic from spreading.
“MEC and its partners should intensify awareness messages for voters not to be denied ability and constitutional right to vote. And again, let those who can get the Covid-19 jab do so now,” he said.
In a related development, the Malawi Congress Party (MCP) deputy regional chairman Walusako Munde has commended MEC for the awareness messages, saying, his party has already told its supporters through political rallies to get face masks on polling day.
He said: “We are aware of the messages that MEC has been preaching about covid-19 preventive measures on Covid-19 and we are taking them seriously.”
DPP deputy regional governor Smart Mwakayira also said his party has intensified awareness campaign messages to his party supporters.