MEC dismisses DPP on new constituencies, wards

MEC dismisses DPP on new constituencies, wards

Malawi Electoral Commission (MEC) has faulted opposition Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) for questioning the demarcation of new constituencies and wards, saying the party was being hypocritical as it was consulted in the process.

MEC spokesperson Sangwani Mwafulirwa said this in an interview yesterday in reaction to a DPP statement that blamed Parliament for adopting the electoral body’s recommendations to increase the number of constituencies and wards.

Mwafulirwa: We consulted widely

He said: “From the onset of the process, the commission consulted far and wide, including all the 13 political parties in the country and they were requesting for an increase in the number of constituencies to address the anomalies that were prevalent in the form of huge disparities in population from one constituency to another.”

Mwafulirwa commended Parliament for confirming the boundary review on time for the commission to start preparing for the the 2025 Tripartite Elections.

“Any discussion or lobbying done now after the National Assembly has already passed the report won’t change anything,” he said.

Parliament on November 18 adopted MEC’s proposal to add 36 new constituencies to the 193 to add up to 229. MEC has also scaled up the number of wards from 462 to 500.

But in a statement on Wednesday signed by the party’s spokesperson Shadric Namalomba, DPP said Malawi is not in sound financial state to bear the cost of 36 new constituencies.

Reads the statement in part: “The DPP reiterates its position against the resolution to increase the number of constituencies from 193 to 229.

“The DPP believes that the economy of Malawi, which is classified by the World Bank as a least developed country with a GDP of $12 billion and with a per capita of $625.29 as of 2020, cannot sustain 229 constituencies.”

United Democratic Front spokesperson Yusuf Mwawa said yesterday in an interview that the re-demarcation was what the country needed to ensure equal distribution of resources.

He said MEC updated the 13 parties at every stage of the exercise.

“The exercise enhances principles of decentralisation, which have been key in achieving sustainable development at all levels,” he said.

Malawi Congress Party spokesperson the Reverend Maurice Munthali also said this is a positive development that promotes equal representation of Malawians.

He said: “As a party, we see the current demarcations and additional constituencies as a positive and welcome move towards proportional representation of the Malawian people.

“We strongly feel that the other governments, including DPP, deliberately and or shamelessly ignored the law and saw nothing wrong with the inequalities that were attached to disobeying this law.”

University of Birmingham professor of democracy Nic Cheeseman said Malawi’s constituency seats are some of the most mal-apportioned and this move was important to bring about balance.

In an interview yesterday, he said: “Malawi’s constituency seats are some of the most mal-apportioned in the world. That means in some constituencies, one MP is representing tens of thousands of constituents and in others the MP represents only a few thousand people.”

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