Chairperson Justice Dr Chifundo Kachali – pictures Elija Phompho

The Malawi Electoral Commission ( MEC) Chairperson Justice Dr Chifundo Kachali has expressed concern with the low turn-up of new voters in the current voter registration and verification exercise for the  November by-elections, a development he fears might lead to voter apathy.

He was speaking when he inspected progress of the voter registration and verification exercise in registration centers of Mchacha, Bodza and Mitondo primary schools in Mankhwira South Ward  on Friday where it transpired that only few new registrants were being captured.

The  MEC Chair said  the development could be as a result of many people in the country still not able to have  national identity cards as it  is currently being done at the District Commissioner’s (DC) Office and post offices.

Kachali could however not disclose  if the Commission intends to place National Registration Bureau ( NRB) staff  in the registration centers to process national IDs for the new registrants, saying the Commission is currently reflecting on the matter.

He added that the Commission experienced challenges during the Fresh Presidential Election when it was  processing national IDs for new registrants through the NRB staff who were placed at registration centers as political parties disputed the eligibility of the registrants which necessitated the court to halt the process.

 Kachali was however optimistic that the electoral body shall still manage to register new voters for the vote since there are still some days to go before winding up of the voter registration and verification exercise which is scheduled for fourteen days.

“On our part as the Commission we have ensured that we put everything else in place to make sure that people in the country register and verify their names to take part in the forth coming by elections.

“So far,  we have not encountered any challenge, we can only urge people in the country to utilize this chance particularly in this ward to choose a leader who shall be initiating development at the council level, “said  Kachali.

On his part , District Commissioner for Chikwawa Ali Phiri urged people in the district not to wait till an election for them to apply for their national IDs, saying registration for national IDs is continuous hence they can do that at their convenient time to prevent them from being disfranchised during election due to lack of a  national ID.

Makhwira South ward became vacant following death of the ward councilor for the area Manek Ganet who was accidentally shot by police when disagreement arose during a meeting which was meant to settle land compensation wrangles for the people who were relocated to pave way for the Thabwa Fatima road which is under construction. MEC launched the 10th  November by elections on 5th September to be held in the constituencies of Mangochi West, Mangochi North, Phalombe North, Lilongwe North west, Karonga central and Makhwira South ward with the voter registration and the two weeks verification exercise ends on  September 27

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