By Enock Balakasi
With voter registration for Malawi’s May 2019 tripartite elections set to begin in about a weeks time, Minister of Civic Education and Culture, Grace Obama Chiume, says her ministry is stamping its authority as a state civic educator on various issues including voter registration and electoral processes.
The government of Malawi has been relying mostly on the National Initiative for Civic Education (NICE) Trust and other organisations accredited by the Malawi Electoral Commission (MEC) to conduct voter civic education to its citizens ahead of elections.
Perhaps, realising that NICE-Trust could not cover everything and go everywhere, President Peter Mutharika moved the Department of Civic Education from the Ministry of Information and Communication Technology, creating a new ministry solely responsible for civic education.
“The relevance of this relatively new ministry in the successful holding of next year’s tripartite elections cannot be overemphasized. I promise Malawians that we will conduct a massive awareness campaign which will leave them well updated with necessary information and satisfied with the entire electoral process,” Chiume told Smash.
She asserted that her ministry has Community Development Assistants and all relevant structures and institutions in place that are doing a “great job”.
Following in the pattern of last year’s national registration exercise, voter registration for the May 2019 tripartite elections is expected to start in the Central Region.
During the exercise, information for would-be voters will be extracted from their National Identity Cards, a process, MEC says, is called biometric voter registration.
The electoral body has said it settled for the system to ensure that only eligible Malawians register to vote and for purposes of maintaining a clean voters roll.
Chiume observes that the component of biometric registration is what requires even more civic education so that Malawians understand how the system operates.
“We are available to teach people what this is all about. I ask all Malawians who are yet to register for their national IDs or collect them to do so quickly enough and come in large numbers to register for voting,” she said.