Voter turnout picks up in Karonga by-election


Voter turnout picked up in the afternoon in Karonga Northwest Constituency where voting is underway despite an average poor poll patronage that has been attributed to heavy downfall which hindered people from going to polling centres.

According to data gathered from about eight polling centres of Nkhando, Chilambilo, Mbande, Karonga CDSS, Baka Lutheran, Lusako, Ipyana and Kakoma, the turnout is yet to hit half.

For example, at Mbande polling centre, out of 987 eligible voters, 250 had voted by 3pm while at Karonga CDSS, out of 970 only over 200 voters had cast their votes by 3pm, which is cause for worry to electoral stakeholders who had visited every corner of the constituency with voter and civic education to avoid voter apathy.

However, some voters have expressed concern over elected leaders’ lack of seriousness to fully implement campaign development promised during campaign.

A voter we spoke to after voting Edith Mwambira from Peter Mwangalawa said her vote counts and she expects rewards in terms of development.

Voters queueing in the afternoon waiting to vote at Chilambilo polling centre-Photograph by Jordan Simeon-Phiri and above: Mwambira casting her vote

She said: “I am old and voted for the future generation. Therefore, these politicians should bring potable water, bridges, school blocks and Heath facilities”.

On the other hand, Zuma Mwalughali said he decided to stay away from voting due to politicians’ laxity on development, saying there is no benefit in voting.

In an interview, Malawi Electoral Commission (MEC) Commissioner Dr. Anthony Mukumbwa ruled out voter apathy at this hour, saying voters who will be at the centre at the regulatory 6pm time will be given an opportunity to cast their votes.

He said: “Technically, polling centres will close at 6pm. However, voters who will have already been at the centre at the closing hour, will be allowed to vote”.

Mzuzu based political commentator George Phiri said voters must have valid reasons to stay away from voting, saying its high time voters started walking the talk by bringing tangible developments that would entice voters to develop desire to vote.

“From the 2019 Tripartite Polls to the 2020 Fresh Presidents Elections, politicians have been up and down promising voters the moon. Now, it seems electorates have not been given what they deserve. That alone, is a reason enough to propel the electorates to shun the elections.

“People’s expectations were very high, so yes, a lot has to be done if the voting trend is to be revitalised,” he said.

53,231 eligible voters from 81 polling centres are expected to cast their votes in a by-election which attracted eight candidates.