Site icon The Times Group Malawi

Resuscitate voters’ trust first

The concern raised by Malawi Electoral Commission (Mec) on voter apathy is genuine and all stakeholders must do their best to make sure that voters, once again, start participating fully in the electoral process.

However, before the said stakeholders step in, Mec should accept that there are a lot of reforms that must be implemented to ensure voters’ trust in the system is resuscitated.

For instance, Mec’s performance in the 2014 elections is still under scrutiny and there is no clearest indication yet that the story would be different in 2019. As some voters have suggested, there is still a lot that should be done to ensure what happened in 2014 is not repeated.

We are hopeful that the reforms that have been discussed in the aftermath of the 2014 elections will be fully implemented to bring back the trust among the voters.

Mec should also make certain that the playing field is levelled. Usually, by-elections are concluded before the voting takes place because of the disadvantage a section of the contestants face.

In mind is the unfair advantage that the candidates from the ruling party hold considering that they will always have the resources to be used for campaign while their opponents continue struggling.

If it were resources generated within the political parties, this would not be a problem at all but mostly it is government resources which some candidates would abuse. This has proved to be a huge factor.

The promises candidates make could also be the other reason for the voter apathy. Not once but many times before, voters are fed lies only to be remembered during the next election. It is high time winning candidates started delivering.

Of course, we share Mec’s desire to make a difference by appealing to the voters to turn out in their large numbers. Indeed, the media, civil society organisations and other stakeholders should support Mec in addressing the challenges but we still believe the larger responsibility rests in the candidates—who should start delivering what they promise— and Mec which should implement some of the suggested reforms.

We believe the by-elections are a huge opportunity for Mec to prepare for the 2019 elections. Despite that the by-elections would only have fewer voters involved, this will be an opportunity for Mec and other stakeholders to gauge whether the challenges that were experienced in 2014 would not resurface in 2019.

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