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MEC, Parties talk Voter Apathy

Written by  Sam Phiri

The recent lukewarm participation of Malawians in the voting process has sparked comments from the general public with others blaming the Malawi Electoral Commission and politicians as contributing to voter apathy.

A woman casting hr ballot. A woman casting hr ballot.

The Local Government Elections which took place recently in five wards in the country saw the average of only 25 percent of the registered voters taking part in casting their ballots.


Speaking in MBCs Tikambilane program on Sunday 30 August, many listeners who took part in the program blamed the Malawi Electoral commission for failing to successfully handle elections when at times they conduct with inadequate equipment and are often marred with violence.


“There is a need for electoral reforms as soon as people have lost trust in the electoral body{MEC} because in addition to most Malawians feeling that politics is only a bridge to make people rich, more civic education needs to be done,” texted one Gift Nyamasauka a listener from Nguludi in Chiladzulu.


Another listener Chimwemwe Josiya attributed voter apathy to loss of trust to the political leaders as they become selfish and don’t live up to their promise once voted into power.


Another contributor texting from Johannesburg South Africa, Winnes Cryton recommended for a quick review of the electoral system.


“There is urgent need for an electoral system reform before the 2019 Elections where old laws we are currently using can be revisited to empower communities to be able to unseat non performing politicians, this will make them to be conscious when in power,” said Cryton.


Speaking during the program, Director of youth in Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) Louis Ngalande concurred with Cyrton saying section 64 of the constitution must come back.

“Much as I agree with most comments that have branded Politicians as selfish I think there is a need for re introduction of the recall provision and more reforms so that Malawians can start taking part in the elections again,” said Ngalande.

In his comment, MEC publicist Sangwani Mwafulirwa however hinted that his organization is talking with concerned stakeholders on how the problem can be addressed.

When the MEC Chair Justice Raphael Mbendera SC was officially announcing the by-election results on 26th August, 2015 at Mount Soche Hotel in Blantyre, he touched on the need for the institution to research on the problem.

“The Phenomenon of low voter turnout or voter apathy is very worrisome. The Commission needs to leave no stone unturned in ensuring that voters in all the five wards were reached with voter information messages,” he said.

During the voter registration and verification period, the Commission registered 858 first-time voters bringing to 27,272 the total of registered voters for the by-elections from 26,404 which represent 3.25 per cent increase with the highest 12.02 per cent recorded in Luchenza Ward.

“I would like to urge institution of higher learning in the country to conduct a research on the causes of voter apathy in the country because as it is we could be providing irrelevant civic education messages to the electorate and could be a waste of resources,” said Mbendera.

The average voter turnout was 25.87 percent which is lower than what was registered during the by-elections in two 11 constituencies and five wards held on October 7, 2014. According to MEC, in the just ended by elections which took place in five wards, highest turnout was 40.87 percent and the lowest being 12.12 percent. The average was 26.14 percent.

“This is not encouraging if compared to the turnout during the Tripartite Elections which was 70.7 percent,” added Mbendera.

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