Official campaign starts on 20 October, 2016. Lets campaign peacefully.

Following the presentation of nomination papers on Monday, October 17, 2016 the Commission wishes to announce the commencement of the official campaign period. The official campaign period starts, Thursday, 20 October, 2016 and will end at 6am on 30 October, 2016.

As we go into this period there is important information which I wish to share regarding the role of various stakeholders starting with the candidates and contesting political parties.

I should start by emphasizing that every candidate or political party has a right to campaign. Further to that, every public officer and public entity or authority should give and be seen to give equal treatment to all candidates to enable each candidate to conduct their campaign freely.

Campaign period is for parties and candidates to sell themselves to the electorate so that they are voted. I urge you all concerned to practice a clean and issue based campaign. While promoting freedom of expression and assembly, the laws of Malawi forbid use of language which is inflammatory, defamatory or insulting or which constitutes incitement to public disorder, insurrection, hate, violence or war.

In recent elections, the trends have shown that our understanding and practice of democracy is maturing. The Commission did not receive any reports of violence or mudslinging during the by-elections in December, 2015. I, therefore, urge you to strive towards maintaining this trend. Voters are interested to know what development programmes and projects you are going to do for them and not how eloquent you are at castigating fellow contenders.

Every candidate has signed to abide by the provisions of the Electoral Code of Conduct for Political Parties and Candidates. This code of conduct is very clear on how the candidates and their parties should behave during campaign period. The Commission will be monitoring the campaign activities to ensure that there is adherence to this code of conduct. Once it is noticed that there is violation of the code of conduct, appropriate action will be taken against anyone concerned.

Candidates and political parties should also ensure that they follow right procedures when booking venues for campaign rallies. Block booking is not acceptable.

In our next column I shall continue giving you important information about this activity, campaign. I hope that those who are involved in these by-elections will conduct the campaign in a peaceful manner.  I wish all contesting candidates and political parties a successful campaign period.