Straight from the end of year break, the Malawi Electoral Commission organised a daylong workshop to review the conduct and management of the by-elections held in November and December 2020.
The review workshop was organised with support from the International Foundation for Electoral Systems (IFES) Malawi office.
Speaking during the opening, Commissioner Dr Jean Mathanga urged all participants to pay attention to the process and give feedback that will improve management of elections.
“If we do not reflect on what went on well and what went wrong, we are bound to repeat past mistakes and also fail to seize the opportunity of perfecting our processes by optimising and replicating best practices.
“Citing improvements to the current electoral practices does not mean that the by-elections were not up to standard, we are just re-engineering ourselves to provide a much better process in the future,” she said.
Commissioner Dr Mathanga, who is chairperson of Electoral Services Committee, thanked all the stakeholders for the wonderful job done during the past by-elections.
“I should also be quick to appreciate all the political parties that participated in these by-elections by sponsoring candidates, mobilising their supporters to go and vote and even by placing representatives to monitors the election activities,” she said.
The Commissioner also noted that every election brought its own unique challenges and it was critical for stakeholders to take time to review the process.
“We need to be open-minded and inquisitive about our processes and systems even when everything seems to be working perfect.
“When we say everything is perfect, we cheat ourselves. There will always be room for improvement and we are searching for an idea that can be a game changer to the way we manage elections,” she said.
The Commissioner appealed to the stakeholders to consider making elections inclusive and accessible to all sectors of the society especially the elderly, women, youth and persons with disabilities.
In her remarks, the Commissioner also hailed IFES for continued support to the Commission regarding implementation of activities in-between the ballot period.
“This brings reality into what we call Electoral Cycle Approach to Elections. It is pleasing to acknowledge that IFES has still remained with us, supporting us like this,” she said.
In December 2020, IFES also supported the Commission to hold a Building Resources in Democracy, Governance and Elections (BRIDGE) Course on Boundary Delimitation in Mangochi targeting political parties and civil society organisations.
In his remarks, IFES country Director Rudolf Elbling commended the partnership between his organisation and the Commission and all electoral stakeholders.
“The activities we are implementing are equally important as those we implemented during elections period. We are laying a solid foundation for a credible election,” he said.
The participants to the by-elections review workshop were MEC Commissioners, management, representatives of political parties that contested in the by-elections, civil society organisations, Constituency Returning Officers and District Commissioners.
The by-elections were held on 10 November 2020 in Makhwira South Ward, Karonga Centra and Lilongwe North West constituencies. On 15 December the polls were held in Mangochi West, Mangochi North East and Phalombe North constituencies.