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Parties scramble for 6.8 million votes

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By Jameson Chauluka:

Political parties contesting in the 2019 tripartite elections should now be able to know where to channel efforts for them to have a bigger piece of the electoral cake.

Malawi Electoral Commission (Mec) announced Tuesday that it has registered 6, 856,295 voters for next year’s elections.

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Of the registered voters, 3,735,894 fall in the category of the youth representing 54 percent of voters. Female voters have registered more than their male counterparts, with the former numbering 3,810,020 and the latter 3,045,766.

The Southern Region has registered 3,009,584 voters, the Central Region has registered 2,915,482 voters while the Northern Region has Registered 931,229 voters.

Out of the 28 districts, Lilongwe has produced the highest registered voters at 1,013,414 while Likoma District has recorded the lowest with 6,946 prospective voters.

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The registration figures this year are 664,521 less than in 2014 when 7,520,816 registered. This represents an 8.83 percent drop.

Political analyst Humphreys Mvula has said the race is tight and voting trends have shifted somehow.

[In]“places such as Lilongwe City and Blantyre—starting from Ntcheu Kirk Range—you will notice that there are more informed voters who vote basing on economic and policy issues. Any party with sound policies would get something from there.

“The Northern Region also does not belong to anyone. People that side vote according to issues, I think a party that will tackle issues such as quota system, land distribution and unfinished projects would win the Northern Region vote.

“But all said, a party that will be able to awaken people’s annoyance with bad governance will be able to carry the day. There is need to tackle issues that affect people in particular areas. Discrediting others or threatening to deal with a particular region will not win votes,” Mvula said.

Democratic Progressive Party spokesperson, Nicholas Dausi, said the party went on a massive campaign to rally people to register for the elections.

“We placed monitors in all the registration centres and we will sit down with Mec on the way forward,” Dausi said.

Malawi Congress Party spokesperson Reverend Maurice Munthali said the party was yet to look at the data in order to come up with a stand.

He, however, said the party maintained that Mec should go back to register voters in Salima, Kasungu and Dedza where the party argued that some voters were left out in the first phase of the exercise since Mec did not intensify civic education.

“Mec said they would consider revisiting the councils after looking at the data holistically; so now that the final statistics are out, we hope that they will live by their promise,” he said.

UTM secretary general, Patricia Kaliati, said although it is interesting that a lot of youths have registered to vote, they will get votes in the next year’s elections from the older generation and the youth alike.

“While we are saying that the future is today for our youth, we know that older men and women will be advising and supporting their children. The older men and women will vote for UTM because we will create jobs for their children who are just loafing,” she said.

On the less number of voters registered this year compared to last elections in 2014, Mec Chairperson, Justice Jane Ansah, said this was due to absence of national identification cards in 2014.

Ansah said a lot of people had been registering as prospective voters in the past with no intention to vote at all but just to acquire the Mec registration cards which they were using to access various social and commercial services.

In an earlier interview, Mec Chief Elections Officer, Sam Alfandika, said Mec was impressed with the exercise.

“For the first time we have used the Biometric Voter Registration system which has eliminated all misplaced photos, name misspellings and other anomalies in our voters roll,” he said.

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