Bupoka Civil Society Organisation Network has asked the Malawi Electoral Commission (MEC) to consider shifting voter registration dates from December to October as the district has a lot of hard to reach areas during rainy season that might affect the exercise.
The CSO network has written MEC chief elections officer Willie Kalonga, with copies to Chitipa district commissioner and other key electoral stakeholders in the district.
The current MEC calendar indicates that voter registration for 2014 tripartite elections in Chitipa will be done under phase nine, which is from December 5-18 2013.
The letter, signed by Bupoka CSO Network chairperson Sydney Simwaka, states that December is not good time for Chitipa because during that period the district normally has heavy rains that may pose challenges since the district is hilly and most earth roads become muddy.
“We would like to kindly ask MEC to reconsider shifting the dates to at least October and we hope that this will help all eligible voters to register since this is a fresh registration; hence, everyone is supposed to register,” reads part of the letter.
The letter also indicates that shifting the dates will help MEC officials and other electoral stakeholders to smoothly operate in the district and the accredited CSOs to carry out civic and voter campaigns even in hard to reach areas such as Kapere and Titi in Kameme, Mughona and Chinongo in Misuku, Bale and Kaswenthe in Wenya, Kapelemera and Muchina in Nthalire among others.
The development has been supported by some political parties in the district, including Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) and People’s Party (PP).
DPP district governor for Chitipa Cleston Mwanja said in an interview: “This has been our concern because besides the roads being impassable during rainy season, the majority of the population in Chitipa earns a living from subsistence farming. This means that if the registration dates will not be shifted a lot of people will not show up at the registration centres.”
On his part, PP district governor Clayton Kalagho said December will not only be difficult for the villagers, but also to the MEC officials as they will not transport voter registration materials in other areas.
Responding to the worries, MEC district elections officer Michael Mkandawire said the concerns will be looked into so that all eligible voters to registration centres without problems.