The Malawi Electoral Commission (MEC) has highlighted that religious leaders have an essential role to play in overcoming voter apathy and towards the attainment of free, fair and credible election.
MEC commissioner Dr Anthony Mukumbwa made the remarks during an interface meeting with the religious leaders at Kalambwe CCAP church in Nkhata-bay central where he shared with the clergy several issues regarding the forthcoming by-election in the district.
“Religious leaders are the vital electoral stakeholders in many ways as they assist in the dissemination of crucial information regarding the elections through civic education. The candidates and the party followers are the members originating from the mosques and the church therefore it is ideal to be working hand in hand with the faith-based affiliations.”
He further explained: “We want the clergy to help us by alerting the people in terms of the COVID-19 pandemic by noting them to acknowledge the precautionary measures regarding the issue, encouraging them to vote thereby overcoming voter apathy and we also want them to persuade people to avoid the quarrels and violence during this campaign period because MEC condemns this tendency.”
Commenting on the just ended inspection exercise which has attained 48% patronage rate in the constituency, Mukumbwa said that despite the below average figures for those who have gone for the exercise, there is still hope that the electorate will come forward to vote.
Taking his part, chairperson for the clergy association for Nkhata-bay Rev. Richard Chirwa of Faith of God congregation said as the authority they already had started holding meetings prior to those with MEC to strategize the concept by combining the gospel with voter civic education during the services.
He said: “People are eager to cast their ballots in the forthcoming by-election in order to restore their rights and development from the government and that’s why we have also been intervening on the issue to achieve successful results.”
Meanwhile, the campaign period for the by-election will end on 27 June, 2021 with an official statement from MEC and Symon Vuwa Kaunda of Democratic Progressive party (DPP) and Ralph Mhone of People’s party (PP) from Tonse Alliance are so far the only candidates to contest in Nkhata-bay central.