MEC worried over voter apathy in Nsanje

Malawi Electoral Commission (MEC) says there could be lack of interest among voters in the June 29 by-elections because politicians have not conducted many campaign rallies ahead of the polls.

Commissioner Caroline Mfune noted that most political parties competing for the upcoming by elections in the district did not conduct campaign meetings in the first days of the campaign period only to intensify the meetings now, when its only few days before the official close of the campaigning period.

It has also transpired that most of the campaign meetings being conducted in the district have not been graced by the political parties’ top brass and they have also not been highly patronized.

Speaking to the media on Thursday after  addressing members of the District Elections Supervisory Team (DEST) and the Constituency Returning Officers (CROs) as well as the District Elections Clerks (DECs) ahead of the by elections,  Commissioner Mfune called on political parties including independent candidates competing for the by elections in the district to intensify their campaign meetings in  the  remaining days of the campaigning period.

She added that much as the electoral body is discouraging political parties from conducting large public gatherings in view of the Covd-19 pandemic, parties can still intensify their campaign bid by employing other means of mobilisation such as use of loud healers.

“As the electoral body we have been on the ground monitoring progress of the campaign period in this area   right from day one.

“What we have noted is that political parties have relaxed in campaigning for their candidates ahead of the upcoming by elections. Most of them started conducting their campaign meetings a bit late.

“In most of the campaign meetings we have monitored so far, we have   noted that the political parties’ top brass have not been gracing the rallies a development which has discouraged their supporters from patronizing them. This is of great concern to us as the electoral body,” said commissioner   Mfune.

On his part, senior Chief Malemia of Nsanje district in a separate interview also complained that even civil society organisations which are involved in voter mobilization in most elections in the area, have also not been active this time around.

The 29th June by-elections will be held in Nsanje Lalanje ward, Chikwembere ward (Blantyre North Constituency) and Nkhata Bay Central Constituency with the campaign period to run from the day of the launch till 27th of June.

In Nsanje Lalanje, four candidates are battling out for a ward council position with MCP’s Abdulhackeem Annuary Hassan and DPP’s Gerald Paul being the leading contenders and their campaign bids have been championed by lands and housing deputy minister Abida Mia and Parliamentarian Gladys Ganda respectively.

Conspicuously missing in the campaign trail in Nsanje have been some notable National and Regional executive members for the two parties.