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No female candidate for August 23 by-elections

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No female candidate has expressed interest to contest in the August 23 local government by-elections in Wenya Ward in Chitipa, Lupembe Ward in Karonga and Shire Ward in Balaka.

A statement from Malawi Electoral Commission (Mec) indicates that five candidates have expressed interest to contest in Wenya, four in Lupembe and six in Shire Ward.

Most of the candidates are affiliated with five major political parties except for one independent, one from Freedom Party and another from United Party.

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Meanwhile, Mec Director of Media and Public Relations Sangwani Mwafulirwa has advised the candidates to pursue an issue-based campaign.

“This is a serious election, we expect that when candidates are campaigning they will focus on their manifesto issues and not on individuals. They should refrain from the use of provocative language and they should also follow Covid preventive measures. On our part as Malawi Electoral Commission we will be monitoring all the campaign activities to ensure that the Code of Conduct is adhered to,” he said.

According to Mec’s calendar of events for the by-elections, the campaign period ends on August 21, 2022.

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Gender rights advocate Viwemi Chavula the absence of female candidates this is a sad development highlighting that this is common in almost by-elections.

“We blame political parties in Malawi. We do not have minimum standards of participation. There are no mechanisms in parties to ensure women participate. It’s an open ended process instead of promoting deliberate mechanisms when it comes to candidate selection. Women are marginalised so too youth and a result parties need to create mechanisms for leveling the playing field,” he said.

Similarly, Maggie Kathewera Banda of Women Legal Resource Centre said this is cause for worry, adding that the situation would mean there has not been a deliberate programme by political parties to feature women.

“Secondly most of the times the programs that we also do as Non-Governmental Organisations normally focus on the general elections rather than by elections. It also means that development partners together with NGOs need to develop contingency plans to cater for such kind of things as they arise,” she said.

All three wards fell vacant following the demise of respective ward councillors.

Delivery of polling materials and deployment of staff to polling stations will be done on August 21 and determination and announcement of results would be done a day after the polls.

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