MEC conducts Boundary Delimitation and elections training
As one way of preparing for 2019 elections, Malawi Electoral Commission MEC is today conducting the Building Resources In Democracy, Governance and Elections (BRIDGE) training course on Boundary Delimitation and elections at Malawi Sun Hotel in Blantyre.
In his speech when officially opening the training chairperson of MEC Justice Maxon Mbendera said the training has come at a better time when Malawi is preparing to have a thorough demarcation exercise through which wards and boundaries of all constituencies are to be redefined.
Mbendera says MEC is encouraged to ensure that ward boundaries do not cross local authority jurisdictions and constituencies contain approximately equal number of voters.
“The Constitution states that review of constituencies should take place at intervals of not more than five years and once MEC has reviewed and determined the boundaries its recommendations are forwarded to Parliament for confirmation,” said Mbendera.
He says since independence, constituency boundaries have been altered seven times and the last boundary delimitation was undertaken in 1998, about 17 years ago.
“In 2014, the Commission only finalized delimitation of ward boundaries, the process of which had started in 2010. It is apparent, therefore, that the current sizes and number of constituencies and wards do not therefore reflect the basic democratic principles as laid down in the Constitution” explained MEC Chairperson.
In the aftermath of 2014 Tripartite Elections, the Commission held postmortem meetings in all 35 councils to hear views of the stakeholders on issues to focus on in order to have a better election in 2019.
They recommended the demarcation and redefinition of boundaries of constituencies and wards because they are too big to be serviced by one Member of Parliament or Councilor which has affected in terms of development.
“We thank government for allocating 300 million kwacha in the current budget for the exercise. We are courting partners to help the commission with technical expertise in order to have a credible process that will pass all legal and political requirements,” he said.
Mbendera has promised that the process of demarcation will be a consultative one whereby all stakeholders will be involved as activities are coordinated at the council level.
He has thanked European Union under the Democratic Governance Programme for supporting the training which is being attended by leaders of different political parties, MEC commissioners and journalists among others.