Its official, its on 01 November, 2016, save the date!

It has been a long walk, we have waited for so long, we have held our patience but finally the date has been set. We have talked a lot about Malawi Electoral Commission announcing the date for the postponed by-elections; finally the date has been announced.

The Malawi Electoral Commission on Friday, 16 September, 2016 launched the by-elections and announced the new date for polling which is on 01 November, 2016.

We have been saying all along that the date would be announced soon, so here it is. We have walked the talk. This is now the time we should get busy, an electoral calendar has been released. The Commission shall officially release the calendar to the electoral stakeholders in the areas where these by-elections will take place on 03 October, 2016.

Just as a matter of reminder, these by-elections are being conducted because of the following reasons;

The vacancy in Mchinji West Constituency arose because of the death of MP, Hon Burton Kanjira Banda on March 13 2016. The Commission had planned to hold the by-elections in this area on May 10 but it never got funding on time and this coincided with the end of term for the former Commissioners and also government financial year. This meant MEC could not access funding and we had to wait for the passing of the current budget.

In Kaliyeka, Sadzi and Bunda Wards the vacancies also arose due to the death of the Councilors who were duly elected in 2014. This brings to 11 the number of by-elections, for both Parliamentary and Local Government, arising from the deaths since May 2014. May their souls Rest in Peace.

We also have Bembeke Ward in Dedza which has fallen vacant because of the conviction of the Council for the ward on a case bordering on moral turpitude and dishonesty.

That being said I know you are wondering what other activities that have been included in the electoral calendar of events. Well, let me give you a brief summary of the electoral calendar for the 01 November, 2016.

The Commission will open centres for registration and voter verification from 12th October to 16th October, 2016 from 8AM to 4PM throughout the period. The Commission will register first-time voters only. These are those who have attained the age of 18 after May 2014 or will turn 18 by November 01, 2016. The Commission will not register anyone who was eligible to register during the last registration exercise but failed to do to so for whatever reason or reasons. The Commission will also not accept transfers. However those that already registered are being encouraged to and check their bio-data. Those that lost their voter certificates are being encouraged to go and get a temporally voter certificate so that they can vote on 01 November, 2016.

All candidates, including those who participated in past elections, need to get the nomination papers again. The Nomination papers will be available from the Constituency or Ward Returning Officers or the District Commissioners from 3rd November 2016. The Commission will receive the Nomination papers from all candidates on 17th October, 2016 in the respective Constituency or Ward Returning Officer’s offices.

The official campaign period shall start on 20th October 2016. As per requirement of the law, campaign shall end at 6AM on 30th October, 2016.

Polling will take place on 01st November, 2016, starting from 6AM up to 6PM.

Vote counting will start immediately after polling at the polling centres and results shall be tallied at the Teachers Development Centre (TDC). The Commission is expected to announce the results on 4th November, 2016 at the tally centre to be established in Blantyre.

So as you can see, there is a thorough preparation for these by-elections. In our next article we shall talk more about civic and voter education. Our statistics show that turnout during by-elections is on the decline. The Commission wants to encourage all those that registered to turnout for polling on 01 November, 2016.


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