Politicians who have pasted or hoisted their adverts on electrical poles belonging to the Electricity Supply Commission of Malawi (Malawi) have been dealt with a big blow as such adverts will be removed thereby rendering them with no medium of free advertisement.
Unleashing the bombshell Escom’s Public Relations Officer George Mituka says the operation which has no code name starts immediately and all those who defy the order by putting back their adverts will face the law.
Escom looks at the action by the advertisers similar to acts of vandalism which is illegal and punishable in a court of law and the corporation has further warned that it would not be liable to any death or misfortune that befalls anyone who paste his advert on the electricity poles.
The ban will not only impinge on politicians but many other people like musicians and dramatists who are the main culprits in placing adverts on poles and trees. The development will also put pressure on trees as people will resort to that alternative.
Ahead of the May 20 2014 tripartite elections, the streets are awash with campaign adverts especially on poles, trees and buildings. Most of these are just pasted without getting consent from authorities.
The development comes a fortnight after a paid for advert of United Democratic Front President Atupele Muluzi nearly faced extinction near the Kamuzu Stadium round about for reasons deemed political.
It is not known whether the development is a wake up from the corporation or there are some shadows hiding behind the statutory corporation.
Commenting on the matter, an official at the Blantyre City Council said that what the electricity corporation is doing is right since the posters are illegal. He was however quick to point out that probably it is the timing that could send wrong signals as others will make their own interpretations linked to political scenery at the moment.
“In fact no person is allowed to advertise without seeking approval from the local authority and no local authority would give consent that adverts be placed on poles or trees.
“The move is good and it is indeed high time that these people were taken to book so that sanity returns into our cities because they really spoil the poles and trees,” said the officer who requested that his name should not be printed for fear of reprisals.
The officer said that at the council there are rangers who go around removing posters on street poles but that they sometimes meet resistance from irate concerned citizens who do not know the requirement.
Most of the posters on trees and poles belong to aspiring members of parliament and counsellors. Some aspiring candidates reach an extent of writing with paint on public infrastructures like bus shelters, bridges and school fences, which unfortunately are not removed.
The Malawi Electoral Commission demands that campaign messages cease to be announced or placed 24 hours before the voting day, but in many parts of the country some campaign messages of the past elections can still be seen in and around the areas, to which a political analyst Professor Rashid Maganga observed that it is difficult to police although he admitted that it rests on MEC.
“MEC should probably engage the local councils to monitor that the campaign materials and messages are erased as regulated otherwise the other option would be to charge the concerned people since they flout the law,” suggested Maganga.