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Malawi confirms 2014 tripartite elections

BLANTYRE--Malawi Electoral Commission chair Justice Maxon Mbendera on Wednesday said:"I am here to confirm that in 2014, we will have Presidential, Parliamentary and Local Government Elections."

Mbendera, who took over from Justice Anastazia Msosa as chair of MEC this year, was speaking at a hearing of ward demarcation in Kasungu.

"It is said that even a journey of a thousand miles begins with one solitary step. So today, we are taking a step in preparation for the tripartite elections in 2014," he  said.

Mbendera, a high court judge who has been seconded to MEC, said the electral body was "determined and geared to do our best so that the 2014 tripartite elections are the best ever and a model to other countries."

But he warned that this can’t be achieved by the Commissioners and MEC secretariat staff alone, adding that all stakeholders have various crucial roles to play.

"As MEC, we have decided to take a consultative approach to the management of elections and its activities. As such, we will be holding frequent meetings with all electoral stakeholders to solicit their views and input. This meeting we are having today is just one way of doing that," he said.

He recalled that the country was preparing to hold Local Government Elections in 2010, but this never took place.

"During that time, the Malawi Electoral Commission did consultations on ward demarcations. This was in line with the Electoral Commission Amendment Act of 2010," he said.

A lawyer by profession, Mbendera said that law prescribed the number of wards the Commission may determine for purposes of Local Government Elections.

He said the law prescribed two wards for each constituency. For municipalities of Luchenza and Kasungu, the law says the total number of wards shouldn't go beyond five, he said.

He said the Kasungu meeting would only deal with wards for the district council.

"We are currently holding discussions with various stakeholders who are recommending the immediate return to the previous position so that there is true representation in the council. This entails amending the current law of 2010 demarcation of wards," he said.

Under the current law, MEC started a ward re-demarcation exercise in 2010, which reduced total number of wards in the whole country from the previous 861 to 444.

He said it was anticipated that the number of wards in the country will increase once the current law is amended.

In coming up with the new wards, MEC considers the provisions of the Constitution on demarcation, which place great emphasis on population density.

"The intention is that wards in a constituency should be approximately equal. The goal is to achieve equal representation. The Commission also looked at ease of communication, geographical features, existing administrative areas, and wishes of the people.  We endevoured to ensure that the ward boundaries do not cross council boundaries," he said.

Mbendera said the re-demarcation exercise wasn't completed in 2010 because the Commission was closed by the administration of the late president Bingu wa Mutharika over a financial scandal at the commission.

"At the time of closure, we had only finished collecting information. This information is what the technocrats and experts call scenarios on the new boundaries that would help us develop new maps. Today, we are continuing from where we stopped in 2010," he said.

The Commission has printed maps which were distributed to the council and to all traditional authority headquarters for viewing.

The MEC chair added: "Today, we will get views on what you have observed. We are here to find out if the maps reflect what was discussed during the consultations of 2010."

Saying elections are the "business of us all," Mbendera said:"The quality of your participation will greatly contribute to the success and credibility of the 2014 elections."

Malawi once held municipal elections in 2000 which were massively won by the then ruling UDF.
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(c) The Maravi Post 2012. Reproduction without acknowledgement prohibitedMalawi confirms 2014 tripartite elections
BLANTYRE--Malawi Electoral Commission chair Justice Maxon Mbendera on Wednesday said:"I am here to confirm that in 2014, we will have Presidential, Parliamentary and Local Government Elections."

Mbendera, who took over from Justice Anastazia Msosa as chair of MEC this year, was speaking at a hearing of ward demarcation in Kasungu.

"It is said that even a journey of a thousand miles begins with one solitary step. So today, we are taking a step in preparation for the tripartite elections in 2014," he  said.

Mbendera, a high court judge who has been seconded to MEC, said the electral body was "determined and geared to do our best so that the 2014 tripartite elections are the best ever and a model to other countries."

But he warned that this can’t be achieved by the Commissioners and MEC secretariat staff alone, adding that all stakeholders have various crucial roles to play.

"As MEC, we have decided to take a consultative approach to the management of elections and its activities. As such, we will be holding frequent meetings with all electoral stakeholders to solicit their views and input. This meeting we are having today is just one way of doing that," he said.

He recalled that the country was preparing to hold Local Government Elections in 2010, but this never took place.

"During that time, the Malawi Electoral Commission did consultations on ward demarcations. This was in line with the Electoral Commission Amendment Act of 2010," he said.

A lawyer by profession, Mbendera said that law prescribed the number of wards the Commission may determine for purposes of Local Government Elections.

He said the law prescribed two wards for each constituency. For municipalities of Luchenza and Kasungu, the law says the total number of wards should not go beyond five, he said.

He said the Kasungu meeting would only deal with wards for the district council.

"We are currently holding discussions with various stakeholders who are recommending the immediate return to the previous position so that there is true representation in the council.   This entails amending the current law of 2010 demarcation of wards," he said.

Under the current law, MEC started a ward re-demarcation exercise in 2010, which reduced total number of wards in the whole country from the previous 861 to 444.

He said it was anticipated that the number of wards in the country will increase once the current law is amended.

In coming up with the new wards, MEC considers the provisions of the Constitution on demarcation, which place great emphasis on population density.

"The intention is that wards in a constituency should be approximately equal.  The goal is to achieve equal representation. The Commission also looked at ease of communication, geographical features, existing administrative areas, and wishes of the people.  We endevoured to ensure that the ward boundaries do not cross council boundaries," he said.

Mbendera said the re-demarcation exercise was not completed in 2010 because the Commission was closed by the administration of the late president Bingu wa Mutharika, over a financial scandal at the commission.

"At the time of closure, we had only finished collecting information. This information is what the technocrats and experts call scenarios on the new boundaries that would help us develop new maps. Today, we are continuing from where we stopped in 2010," he said.

The Commission has printed maps, which were distributed to the council and to all traditional authority headquarters for viewing.

The MEC chair added: "Today, we will get views on what you have observed. We are here to find out if the maps reflect what was discussed during the consultations of 2010."

Saying elections are the "business of us all," Mbendera said:"The quality of your participation will greatly contribute to the success and credibility of the 2014 elections."

Malawi once held municipal elections in 2000 which were massively won by the then ruling UDF.
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(c) The Maravi Post 2012. Reproduction without acknowledgement prohibited

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