As the voter registration exercise enters its final phase, it is becoming clear that women and youths aged below 35 are poised to play a key role in deciding who occupies State House next year.
So for MCP to retain the presidency which they lost 25 years ago, the ruling DPP to maintain the status quo, newcomers – UTM — to test political power, and the former ruling People’s Party to bounce back after an embarrassing defeat in 2014, winning the hearts and minds of women and youths will be key.
Of the total registered voters so far, almost 3.5 million are women representing 56 percent and 3.4 million are youths below the age of 35.
Representing more than half of the country’s population, women and youths, says Malawi Electoral Commission, are registering to vote more than any other — uniquely positioned to influence next year’s tripartite elections.
“The youth vote is likely to be decisive and political parties need to pay attention to that in their campaign messaging,” Political commentator, Dr Henry Chingaipe, said when asked about who will decide the election.
Over 6 million [6,264,183] voters have registered so far against a projection of 7,745,095 representing 81 percent.
About 2,776,444 men have also registered representing 44 percent, said Jean Mathanga, chairperson for Electoral Services Committee.
“Of the total sum for registered youths, 1,943,820 females representing 57 percent and 1,479,803 are males translating into 43 percent,” she said.
Steve Duwa, chairperson for Malawi Electoral Support Network, was spot on.
“Any party that wants to win next year’s election should come up with strategies that will attract the women and youths.”
Malawi goes to the polls in May next year.
Political observers say the Malawi Congress Party and United Transformation Movement are the likely parties to attract the new voters especially the youth vote. People’s Party has potential to appeal to the women vote because of Joyce Banda, the former Head of State.
The final phase of voter registration started yesterday in Mzuzu, Nkhata Bay, Likoma Island and Mzimba. It ends on November 9, 2018.
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