The Malawi Electoral Commission (the “Commission”) is informing all stakeholders that it has concluded the review and determination of constituency and wards boundaries in preparation for the 2025 General Elections and has on 7th November, 2022 submitted the report to the National Assembly through the Minister of Justice and Constitutional Affairs for confirmation of the constituency boundaries.
Confirmation of constituency boundaries is a requirement of Section 76 (5) (b) of the Constitution which stipulates that the National Assembly shall confirm all determinations by the Commission with regard to the drawing up of constituency boundaries but may not alter the boundaries of any constituency, except upon the recommendation of the Commission.
This exercise has been implemented from April 2021 to July 2022. During the said period, the Commission held public awareness meetings, public consultations and public hearings. The stakeholders who were consulted include presidents and leaders of all registered political parties, Members of Parliament, Ward Councillors, faith and traditional leaders, and Civil Society Organisations among others.
In accordance with section 8 (1) (a) of the Electoral Commission Act, the Commission has the power to determine the number of constituencies and wards for the purposes of elections. For the purposes of the 2025 elections, it has been determined by the Commission that the number of constituencies shall be 229, up from 193 and the wards shall be 509, up from 462. The maps and their respective boundary descriptions can be accessed on the Commission’s website at https://www.demarcation.mec.org.mw .
The constituencies and wards have been given names that were proposed and agreed upon by the stakeholders. Where there was no discernible agreement, the Commission has given names to the relevant constituencies and wards based on geographical positioning.
In determining the number of constituencies, the Commission was guided by the requirement of the Constitution that the process must be impartial and that constituencies must contain approximately equal number of voters eligible to register to vote subject to considerations of population density, ease of communication, geographical features and existing administrative boundaries.
The Commission used the projected population of people eligible to register to vote for the 2025 General Elections, which was provided by the National Statistical Office (NSO) which is mandated by the National Statistics Act, 2013 as a body responsible for the collection, compilation, analysis, abstraction, publication and dissemination of statistical information in Malawi. According to the NSO, the national population of voters eligible to register to vote in 2025 is projected to be 10,957,490.
Even though this exercise was entirely technical and guided by law, the Commission was aware that the determinations made in this exercise may be perceived to be significantly political, with the potential of having an impact on the management, outcome and overall fairness of elections. It is for this reason that the Commission ensured that the process was undertaken in a fair and transparent manner. Further, the Commission endeavored to conduct the exercise in an independent and impartial manner and was not, at any point, subjected to any external direction, or undue influence.
It is sincerely hoped that the National Assembly will consider the Report on its merit and within the prescriptions of factors which are provided by the law and not any other considerations.
Once confirmed by the National Assembly the Commission shall publish the new boundary descriptions in the Gazette and shall immediately thereafter, embark on a national wide exercise to establish registration and polling centres. During this exercise, the public will have an opportunity to suggest new places to be considered for establishment as centres in line with the new boundaries and the law.
The Commission is grateful to all stakeholders that contributed to the success of the exercise in various ways. Special mention should be made of the National Statistical Office, the Surveyor General’s Office, Ministry of Finance, United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), International Foundation for Electoral Systems (IFES), political parties, Members of Parliament, Ward Councillors, CSOs, traditional leaders, faith and religious leaders, block leaders, the Malawi Police Service, Constituency and Ward Boundary Review Teams and public servants in all councils, among others.
Signed this 8th day of November 2022 at Blantyre
Chief Elections Officer