Matenje Ward ready for November 5 by-election

Erah Pinifolo, Mec Stringer in Kasungu

All is set for Tuesday (November 5) by-election for Matenje Ward  in Kasungu North West Constituency as Malawi Electoral Commission (MEC) finalizes training polling staff.

The two-day training attracted polling staff and political party monitors in readiness for the by elections.

MEC Commissioner Dr Jean Mathanga called upon the polling staff to discharge their duties professionally.

Commissioner Mathanga

“As a Commission, our goal is to conduct credible elections, hence the need to train the polling staff in readiness for the task ahead.

“We have managed to meet all the electoral stakeholders including political parties to strategize ahead of the polls,” Mathanga said.

Matenje Ward has 15,760 registered voters expected to cast their vote.

MEC has postponed the parliamentary by-elections in Lilongwe South Constituency due to political tension in the area.

Voting material arrived on Friday

MEC says the commissioners and staff that were deployed to work in the constituency were being intimidated since the launch of the official campaign period on October 19.

“The Malawi Electoral Commission met on Tuesday, 29 October, 2019 in Lilongwe to review the situation and environment and consider complaints received regarding the campaign environment in Lilongwe South Constituency.

“Since the launch of the official campaign period on October 19, 2019 the Commission has been monitoring the environment in Lilongwe South Constituency and also Matenje Ward in Kasungu.

People casting their vote in May

“So far, the Commission has not received or witnessed any act of violence in Matenje Ward and all the voter mobilization activities and meetings have been running without interference.

“However, the Commission has received a complaint regarding the volatile situation in Lilongwe South. The Commission and staff have also been victims. 

“On October 25, 2019 one of the MEC Commissioners was blocked and stoned while on a campaign monitoring exercise. 

“Secretariat staff who were putting up posters were also stopped and verbally intimidated. The intimidation was intense that the Commission was forced to postpone all public voter mobilization meetings and activities that it had planned in the constituency.

“The Commission has tried to quell the situation through convening a Multiparty Liaison Committee (MPLC) meeting on October 25, 2019 after complaints of intimidation and violence had been filed. 

“During the meeting all leaders pledged to stick to the Code of Conduct for Political Parties and Candidate or risk disqualification. However, the situation has not improved.

“On 27th October, 2019 the Commission received reports from various stakeholders in Lilongwe South Constituency that some people were assaulted and their houses and property burnt and looted and the matter is being handled by the Malawi Police Service.

“At its meeting today, the Commission was concerned with the growing insecurity and threats to MEC Commissioners and staff deployed to work in the constituency and supporters of various parties and candidates.

“The Commission has, therefore, resolved to postpone the by-elections in Lilongwe South Constituency until further notice. 

“This is to safeguard life and property of the people in the constituency and also MEC. Meanwhile, the Commission will engage with the leadership of contesting candidates and be monitoring the situation on the ground.

“Once the situation improves, the Commission will announce a new date for the polling.