MALAWI ELECTORAL COMMISSION
Speech delivered by Commissioner His Grace Archbishop Emeritus Dr Bernard Malango
During commemoration of International Day for Peace on
September 21, 2013
It gives me pleasure to offer as few remarks as we commemorate the international day for Peace which here is being celebrated under the theme “We are all one; Youth for peaceful 2014 elections”.
Ladies and gentlemen, the theme for these celebrations could not have been better than this, not only because next year we are having elections, but also considering the role elections play in maintaining peace and security in a country.
Elections are not only just a democracy issue but there are also a security issue and you and I know that where there is no adequate security peace is usually absent.
Examples abound world over whereby countries have been thrown into turmoil just because of one mismanaged election. The example of the previous elections in Kenya is still fresh in the minds of many here.
As Malawi Electoral Commission we are geared to hold a peaceful election whose results will be acceptable by all stakeholders. If you analyze critically, in most cases it is the action of losers that determined the prevalence of peace in a country or not. In any election there is only one winner and this is a fact but no one goes into an electoral contest expecting to lose. So how the losers react their loss is very crucial to the sustenance of peace and stability of a nation. It is one thing to lose in fair process and it is another things to lose in unfair process. Considering this scenario, the Commission is putting place many structures and initiatives to ensure that next year’s elections are conducted in an environment and manner that promotes peace.
The Commission is strengthening the capacity of Multi-Party Liaison Committees to settle disputes of political parties at district level. The Commission has also trained political parties secretaries general and publicity secretaries in conflict management. The aim is to equip them with skills that will enable them manage conflict within their and also refrain from perpetuating conflict outside their party.
Ladies and gentlemen, the Malawi population is increasingly becoming youthful. Majority of the voters are under the age of 35 and this means the electoral Commission cannot ignore them. Undoubtedly, youth are the backbone of a nation. So in order for a nation to progress, it is imperative that a proper system of youth empowerment is put in place.
As a Commission we have noted that in the past the Youth have always been used in perpetuating violence. In such scenarios, those who spark it have tended to take a back stage. I wish to encourage you to refrain from being abused.
|MEC CEO, Willie Kalonga and Commissioner Archbishop Emeritus Dr Malango at the meeting|
There are so many roles you can play in elections. First I should encourage you to register. You need to register so that you can vote. For the 2014 Tripartite Elections, the Commission decided that there should be a fresh registration that is everyone has to register whether they registered before or not. Eligible registrants are those that have attained the age of 18 or will have attained the age of 18 by May 20, 2014 which is the polling day. In simple way everyone who was born before May 20,1996 is eligible to register. As a Commission we know most of the first time registrants will be the youth who have attained the voting age or will attain the voting age by the time we go to the polls. One fascinating thing about next year’s election is that it will be the first elections whereby “multiparty born youth” will participate in national elections. The Commission is putting up all its efforts to woo these first time registrants to exercise their right and duty. The youth are in majority and if they do not register it means a significant section of the country will be missing its representation in electoral processes.
The Malawi Electoral Commission accredited a total of 72 NGOs, 17 faith-based organizations and 23 community based organizations to conduct civic and voter education. Among these 12 are focusing on women and 22 organizations have special focus on the youth. You can see that we have a bigger number of organizations with special interests in the youth. We would assume that a good percentage of staff working in these organizations are also the youth. That means we have more youth working in the civil society organisation that will be involved in civic and voter education. Wherever, the success of the 2014 Tripartite Elections will be mentioned these youths will also be mentioned. With more youths working in civic and voter education we expect more participation of the youth because more messages will be going to them.
For the 2014 Tripartite Elections we will have one seat for presidency, 193 seats for Members of Parliament and 462 seats to be competed for by ward councilor aspirants. These offer an opportunity for youth to participate as candidates. Women are coming up with a 50-50 campaign to encourage and support women ascend to leadership positions, the youth can also come up with their own genre of campaign to encourage the youth to participate as candidates. The coming in of the councillor positions further broadens the base for the actualization of the saying “the youth are the leaders of tomorrow”. There are now so many elected positions which the youth can compete for.
The law provides that for one to contest as a ward councillor and Member of Parliament, he or she should have attained the age of 21 at the time of nomination while for Presidency, it is 35 years at the time of nomination. Majority of the youth qualify and we should encourage them to participate as candidates.
Ladies and gentlemen, before I resume my seat allow me to repeat that election need to be held in an environment free of violence and intimidation. Violence creates an environment of fear which may hinder others from participating in the elections and such elections cannot be branded to be free, fair and credible. The youth need to be proactive by now ensuring that the culture of violence is stopped and that all perpetrators are reported to police.
The Commission on its part will do everything according to law to ensure that there is peace throughout the electoral period.
May God bless you all