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Mixed voter turnout for by-elections

EVERY VOTE COUNTS— A woman votes in Balaka

INSPECTION TIME— Kachale (left)
inspects work at Linthipe Polling
Centre in Dedza District

By Pilirani Kachinziri, Deogratias Mmana, Sam Kalimira & Gary Samati

Malawi Electoral Commission (Mec) Tuesday conducted by-elections in three constituencies and one ward, with the areas registering mixed fortunes on voter turnout but no major incident to mar the process.

As we went to press, counting of votes was underway in all the areas after voting closed at 6pm.

In Chimwalire Ward in Balaka South Constituency, up to 13,000 people had registered to vote.

However, when The Daily Times conducted spot-checks as voting was in progress, voter turnout left little to impress as only a few people were seen casting their votes.

By the time polling stations closed at 6pm, the number of people who had voted at most centres was less than half of the total registered, according to elections officials.

Nonetheless, the process in the ward went on without any disruptive incident.

People in the area were casting their votes following the death of councillor Joseph Daniel.

The contestants included five independent candidates; Matebule Kangadzu, Francis Chapita, Farook Kanyenda, Chiyembekezo Chilombo and Doris Ngalawa.

Malawi Congress Party (MCP)’s Lackson Likawa, Democratic Progressive Party (DPP)’s Osman Mapira, Alliance for Democracy’s (Aford)’s Lastem Stephano, United Democratic Front (UDF)’s Antony Choka and Mafunde’s John Napose contested in the election.

In Dedza Central East, voter turnout ranged between 40 and 50 percent, according to Mec Chairperson Chifundo Kachale.

“This is encouraging,” he said.

Over 29,000 people registered from 22 centres.

Seven candidates were in the race. They included Reagan Gondwe [independent], Solomon Kachitsa [independent]; Loudon Malingamoyo [independent], Bonnex Malunga [independent]; Elliot Kasawala [DPP]; Joshua Malango [Malawi Congress Party, MCP] and Patrick Siwinda [UTM].

In Mzimba East Constituency, some candidates failed to vote as they did not register in the constituency.

These include MCP’s Donnex Muva, Freedom Party’s John Phiri and DPP’s Wesley Kumwenda.

“We have not faced any serious challenges, only that some candidates wanted to vote while their names were not on voters’ roll. We have sent them back and we are happy that they have understood the situation,” Simkonda said.

Elections observer Moses Mkandawire of Church and Society of Livingstonia Synod said he was worried that youths had not turned out to vote in droves, as compared to the elderly.

In Nkhotakota North East, the elections also proceeded without any incident and without any problem registered on the voters’ roll in all the 36 centres.

Mec Commissioner Emmanuel Fabiano, who inspected several polling centres in the constituency, said he was impressed with how polling progressed.

He said the turnout of voters was impressive.

Nine candidates were competing in Nkhotakota North East. They are Panji Chirambo of Assembly for Democracy Development, Silver Aisha of DPP, Chimwemwe Chidothe of UTM, Overstone Kondowe of MCP, Patrick Kampaliro of Aford, Aleke Kamange of UDF and independent candidates Gift Mbuna, Zelita Banda and Franklyn Yobame.

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