Malawi is expected to build on the successes of the June 23, 2020 Fresh Presidential poll to better manage future elections in a free, fair and credible manner, President Lazarus Chakwera has said.
Speaking when he appeared before Parliament on Wednesday to answer questions from Members of Parliament, the President gave solid assurances in responding to a question from Zomba Lisanjala legislator, William Susuwele Banda.
“My administration is committed to extending the peace and success of the 2020 Fresh Presidential Election to future elections by empowering the stakeholder institutions to deliver on their respective mandates,” said the President.
Since the advent of multiparty politics in the early 90s, Malawi’s elections have been marred by violence mainly due to a perceived or actual non-level playing field by key electoral stakeholders that are accused of siding with particular parties and candidates.
The President reiterated the need for institutions to do their work correctly if the country is to grow her democracy within the context of elections.
“As a nation, we were able to manage the 2020 elections by having strong stakeholder institutions playing their unique role in delivering their constitutional mandate within Malawi’s democratic framework.
“My administration will work with other stakeholders to provide an enabling environment for the delivery of peaceful elections, because my Government needs other institutions to effect the following actions intended to foster peace,” he said.
He then faulted key stakeholders for failing to execute their duties right, a situation that has culminated in violence in recent by-elections, as was the case in Karonga and Mulanje among other places.
“The incidences of violence that have marred more recent by-elections were occasioned by the failure of some stakeholder institutions to do their jobs.
“As such, my administration will be taking a comprehensive approach that ensures peaceful elections by addressing the gaps that remain in our legislation, law-enforcement, electoral management, logistical arrangements, media engagement, political engagement, regulatory framework, and voter engagement.”
The Malawi leader said another aspect in ensuring long term credibility of elections is building capacity among the citizenry through comprehensive civic education.
“Additionally, my administration’s creation of the Ministry of Civic Education and National Unity will foster and promote reconciliation proactively to address the underlying historical wounds that get inflamed towards violence by the incendiary rhetoric of political leaders.”
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On inclusive politics President Chakwera promised to defend the rights of female politicians to ensure that they have equal opportunities as men before, during and after elections.
“Let me assure women politicians that they will be protected and those who fail to protect women should be taken to account. Any institution that deals with these issues must wake up using the laws that are already in place,” said the President in tackling a supplementary question from one of the lawmakers.
Furthermore, government will build MEC’s capacity by introducing better and harmonized electoral legislation, procedures, and regulations; enacting a legal framework for guaranteeing the financial and political autonomy of MEC; and resourcing the comprehensive review of wards and constituency boundaries to ensure electoral equity.
He also announced plans by government to construct a purpose-built MEC Head Office in Lilongwe and establish a professional and efficient Electoral Commission Secretariat that will have automated and modern operating systems.
There will also be proper regularization of the proportional representation of MEC Commissioners from political parties to ensure compliance with the Electoral Commission Act unlike in the immediate past when former President Arthur Peter Mutharika appointed more commissioners from his party.
Malawians will go to the next Presidential polls in September 2025.