The 50:50 Campaign Management Agency says it will soon start refunding Malawi Electoral Commission (MEC) nomination fees that female candidates paid to be eligible for the May 21 Tripartite Elections.
The candidates are those contesting the presidency, parliamentary and ward councillor seats.
In a statement issued yesterday, the agency says it asked all female candidates last month to provide their details including names, constituency or ward and bank deposit slips through their party secretariats to simplify the refunding process, but so far, only those from Peoples Party (PP), the governing Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) and UTM Party have complied.
PP has 22 female MP candidates, DPP 40 while UTM Party has 41, according to the agency’s tabulation.
In an interview yesterday, the agency team leader Viwemi Chavula said they will start refunding nomination fees for all female candidates as soon as the processes are completed.
He said: “The cleaning process is ongoing and as soon as we finish, we will start to deposit the refunds. We will finish with councillors since we don’t have the list. We are doing first come first served. But all the female candidates will be paid.”
Chavula says the agency is working with United Nations (UN) Women which will refund 494 aspiring councillors and 133 parliamentary candidates, while the agency will pay the remaining ones.
The agency has since urged the remaining political parties and independent candidates to submit the names to speed up the process.
University of Malawi’s Chancellor College political scientist Ernest Thidwa, in an interview yesterday, welcomed the move, but said there is more to achieving gender equality in political representation than funding.
He said: “To improve the number of women in Parliament, there is need to change the electoral system from the current system of first-past-the-post to the proportional elections representation system where parties could be encouraged to put on their list a certain number of women.”
According to MEC, the number of female contestants has soared from 268 in the 2014 Tripartite Elections to 304 this year.