The Malawi Election Commission (MEC) said that although its activities have been managed without interruption so far, there is a lack of funding for the Commission to carry out the processes – which include finalizing the exercise. review of constituencies and neighborhood boundaries; and the holding of local government by-elections.
In his New Year’s message, MEC Chairman Judge Dr Chifundo Kachale said they would engage the government to have a provision in the next fiscal year to complete the remaining activities.
The boundary review exercise for constituencies and wards began last year and is targeted for the 2025 election which will consider eligible voters who turn 18 on election day.
The last undertaking of the electoral district review and exercise of neighborhood boundaries that determined the current 193 seats in Parliament was carried out 13 years ago in 1998, failing to meet the country’s constitutional requirement to every five years.
The last review took place in 2008, 10 years after the 1998 fiscal year, but, according to the pollster, it was not approved by Parliament in accordance with constitutional requirements.
The exercise is very important that after every five years, the Commission ensures that all the constituencies are equal in number of voters by welcoming eligible people who will be 18 years old on the day of the next elections.
In his statement, Judge Kachale said they looked forward to this year “with vigor, hope and determination to achieve what we have planned and what the law requires us to do.”
He thus indicated that the Commission had organized meetings in April and May 2021 with electoral actors which included leaders of all active political parties represented in Parliament and outside, civil society organizations, members of Parliament. , the public affairs committee.
It also held outreach meetings in August and September 2021 across all boards and called for submissions of views from all stakeholders.
The MEC has also determined the total number of constituencies for each Council for the purposes of the 2025 elections, in accordance with the provisions of the law under Article 76 (2) of the Constitution of the Republic of Malawi.
“After documentary and fieldwork, the boundary review teams came up with preliminary constituency boundary scenarios. The Commission organized meetings at council level where all stakeholders had the opportunity to give their views.
“The teams came up with more than one scenario of new ward and district boundaries which were submitted to the Commission for review and quality control before producing preliminary maps.”
Kachale further stated that this review will take place during this month of January 2022 in which he will check whether the teams have followed the law and the guidelines provided, will review the representations that the Commission has been and continues to receive from all the country.
“Here let me mention and clarify that the Commission will only consider representations that are supported by law. I say this because we have certain representations that clearly show individual (personal) interest.
“Unfortunately, some have gone so far as to mobilize the chiefs and deliberately distort the facts to buy sympathy by lying to the chiefs that the Commission has taken some of their subjects into another chief.
“The Commission has not altered any chiefdom boundaries and the law does not confer these powers on it. I would like to reiterate that at present there are no new boundaries confirmed by the Commission.
“The process is still ongoing until the preliminary maps are displayed, further legal representations are obtained and the final reflection of the Commission.”
Kachale reiterated that the boundary review process is the foundation for the 2025 elections as the Commission “is designed and determined to put in place a credible process whose outcome will be accepted by all stakeholders”.
“That aside, stakeholders should be aware that elections are a cycle. Preparations are starting now, not election year. In this year 2022, the Commission will draw up a timetable and a budget for the 2025 elections.
“The cost of the elections will be spread over three annual budgets to avoid putting pressure on the government budget during the election year.”
He also reported that there were by-elections in 11 constituencies and five wards in 2021 following the deaths of MPs and councilors elected in 2019 and others due to the courts’ overturning of the results of 2019.
“At the moment, there are two vacant wards – the Shire quarter in Balaka and the Lupembe quarter in Karonga. The Commission appreciates the need for people to have representation either in the National Assembly or in the local council and this is why it is by-elections as soon as possible when a position becomes vacant.
“For the two wards, the Commission will announce the date on which the by-elections will take place once the government assurance is made for the funding, as the by-election funds for the short fiscal year have been exhausted.
“It is important that the by-elections are organized so that the population is represented in the local councils.
The upcoming activities on the electoral district and ward boundary review for the year 2022 are as follows:
a. The examination of the boundary scenarios by the Municipalities Commission and the choice of the preliminary map for each municipality, as indicated previously, is the next activity in January 2022;
b. Printing of preliminary maps for each municipality in January and February 2022;
vs. Display and visualization of preliminary maps in public places including council offices, hospitals, markets and T / A headquarters and other strategic locations in February 2022 – aim is to deliver to the public the ability to see how the proposed boundaries will come out like and make representations, if any, that are in accordance with the law:
D. Public hearings in all councils to obtain feedback from all stakeholders on the preliminary maps that will have been posted in February 2022. Public hearings will take place between April and May 2022. The Commission will also organize targeted meetings with other parties stakeholders, including political parties. and civil society organizations between June and July;
e. Comments from the consultative meetings will be considered by the Commission and incorporated into the first final version of the boundary review report. Before submitting the report to Parliament, the Commission will hold a meeting with MEPs in July 2022. This will be an opportunity for the Commission to explain, clarify and answer questions from MEPs regarding the report;
F. The Commission will submit its final report to the National Assembly for approval in October 2022.
Stakeholder expectations for boundary review:
The Commission encourages all stakeholders to learn about the provisions of the law regarding the border review process in order to make informed contributions.
The Commission is open to stakeholder views at any time during the process as long as they comply with the law.
It is by collecting the views of all stakeholders that the best of this boundary review process can be shaped. The Commission therefore encourages members of the public to take an interest in the process and to express their views and opinions.
However, they should participate with keen, sober, and objective interest.
So Kachale concluded by expressing his gratitude to all the electoral actors; political parties, candidates, all registered voters, development partners, traditional and religious leaders, and everyone – “for their active participation in the activities carried out by the Commission in 2021 and in particular during the revision process limits “.
“As we move forward into 2022, we are optimistic about continued support and collaboration. Together, we can accomplish many things that can go a long way in consolidating our democracy.
“I wish you a successful and prosperous year 2022 God bless you.”