By Wezzie Gausi:
President Lazarus Chakwera has given a nod to the constituency demarcation exercise that has resulted in the Malawi Electoral Commission (Mec) adding 35 more constituencies to the existing 193.
Chakwera said this at the State House in Lilongwe Thursday, when Malawi Congress Party (MCP) officials engaged Mec on the determination of constituencies for the 2025 elections.
He said he was happy with the progress that Mec had made on the demarcation exercise.
The President said the exercise was a step further in upholding and consolidating democracy in the country.
“The exercise will help the country develop. I understand some areas are too big to be handled by a single person, which mostly resulted in other parts not being reached with development [initiatives].
“But I still urge Mec to continue making thorough consultations on the matter,” Chakwera said.
However, MCP director of elections Elias Chakwera said the party felt that Mec did not do a good job in the exercise.
He said the party observed that, where there are more people, there seems to be fewer constituencies.
“In terms of population voter count by 2025 by the National Statistics Office, the Central Region will have more people to vote compared to the Southern Region. And, then, you also look at square kilometres of south and central; the Central Region has more kilometres but if you look at constituency numbers, the Southern Region has more constituencies but has fewer people.
“So we, as a party, want Mec to clarify on this anomaly. The commission has given us the go-ahead to write them on the issue and, as such, we will be doing that so that they can look into the matter,” he said.
Mec Chairperson Judge Chifundo Kachale said the commission welcomed all concerns but promised to do their job professionally.
He said, when determining constituency boundaries, the commission was impartial to ensure that constituencies contain approximately equal numbers of voters eligible to register, among other factors.
“Extensive stakeholder consultations provided data which the commission considered when arriving at its decision. In its nationwide consultations, the commission met with over 3,000 stakeholders through a series of meetings at each council which had been preceded by engagements with political parties and other civic leaders.
“Throughout these meetings, the commission was quite keen to emphasise the central role of the relevant legal stipulations in guiding the distribution of constituencies as we undertake the review of boundaries,” Kachale said.
Meanwhile, Mec has said the final decision on whether the commission’s recommendations, as regards review of constituency boundaries and numbers, will be implemented lies in the hands of the National Assembly.