Malawi Electoral Commission (MEC) this year plans to finalise the boundary review exercise for constituencies and wards as well as develop a calendar and budget for the 2025 Tripartite Elections.
In a New Year Message to Malawians, MEC chairperson Chifundo Kachale said the boundaries review exercise was facing a funding gap and that the commission will engage government for consideration in the next national budget to complete the remaining activities.
He said the commission will this month review boundary scenarios from the councils and choose the preliminary map for each council.
Kachale, who is also a judge of the High Court of Malawi, said the review exercise, which started in 2021, will also involve printing of the preliminary maps for each council.
He said: “Public hearings in all the councils [will take place] to get feedback from all stakeholders on the preliminary maps. The public hearings will take place between April and May 2022.
“Before submission of the report to Parliament, the commission will hold a meeting with members of Parliament [MPs] in July 2022. This will be an opportunity for the commission to explain, clarify and respond to queries from the MPs regarding the report. The commission will submit final report to the National Assembly for approval in October 2022.”
The MEC chairperson also reminded stakeholders that the boundary review process is the foundation for 2025 elections, indicating that the commission was geared and determined to deliver a credible process.
He said: “That aside, stakeholders should be aware that elections are a cycle. Preparations start now and not in the election’s year. In this year 2022 the commission will develop a calendar and a budget for the 2025 elections.
“The cost of the elections will be spread over three financial year budgets to avoid exerting pressure on the government budget in the election year. The commission, as usual, will be giving updates to stakeholders accordingly.”
MEC embarked on the constituency and ward boundary re-demarcation exercise. The results saw the proposed creation of additional 35 constituencies effective 2025 Tripartite Elections to increase seats in Parliament from the current 193 to 228.
MEC proposed that the Northern Region will have 37 constituencies from the current 33, an increase of four while the Central Region will have 20 new constituencies from 73 to 93 and the Southern Region will have 98 constituencies, a jump of 11 from 87.
The expansion, once approved by Parliament, will have a significant economic bearing as each parliamentarian (MP) receives around K2.2 million monthly package, excluding allowances.
Opposition Democratic Progressive Party spokesperson Shadric Namalomba argued earlier that money for paying new MPs can best be used to grow infrastructure in the country.
In 1994, the country’s Parliament had 177 MPs while a re-demarcation exercise increased the number to 193 in 1999.