National Initiative for Civic Education (NICE) Trust has advised Malawians to demand signed social contracts binding contestants in the local parliamentary elections to the promises made ahead of the 2019 tripartite elections.
Aspiring ward councillors signing social contracts in Dowa
The NICE Regional Civic Education Officer (Centre), Christopher Naphiyo, said the social contracts the aspiring councillors and members of Parliament (MPs) are signing with the electorates during public debates will help enhance transparency and accountability among elected leaders.
Naphiyo was speaking in Kayembe Ward under Dowa West Constituency in Dowa on Saturday during a public debate NICE had organised with financial support from the European Union (EU) and the Embassy of Germany in Malawi.
"The contracts would bind triumphant contestants to the promises made during the campaign thereby consolidating democratic and good governance from the grassroots. I therefore urged you - as rights holders - to demand signed social contracts from the contestants," he said.
Nevertheless, Naphiyo commended the people of Kayembe Ward for an impressive performance in the 2014 tripartite elections whose turn out had been above the national average and managing to have a low percentage of null and void votes.
During the debate, NICE showed a sample ballot paper and demonstrated how the voters can make the correct marking to reduce incidences of null and void votes.
Additionally, Naphiyo reminded the voters that it is within their constitutional right to collect another ballot in the event that they mistakenly spoiled the one initially given to them.
"If you realise that you have made a mistake when marking on the ballot paper, you are free to go back to the election officials to return the spoiled ballot and get a fresh one to enable you exercise your constitutional right to vote. I encourage you to do better in both turn out and reducing null and void votes in the 21st May polls," he said.
Senior Chief Kayembe commended NICE for working tirelessly to provide civic education to the masses since its inception in the 1990s.
Kayembe observed that systemic civic and voter education plays an important role in mobilising citizens to go and cast their ballots during any poll.