17 May 2019

Malawi: Elections Day Not Public Holiday - Govt

Photo: European Union Election Observation Mission
Voters on the queue at Kanjedza School in Blantyre (file photo).

Government has said business will go-on as usual on polling day next Tuesday but has quickly appealed to the citizenry to go and cast their votes en masse.

Malawi goes to its second Tripartite Elections (TPE) next week on May 21--in twenty-five years since it embraced multipartyism--to elect ward councilors, Members of Parliament and the President.

Some quarters have, during this week, argued that a "public holiday" would be imperative to give chance to citizens to "freely" cast their votes without "being disturbed."

But a statement by Lloyd Muhara, chief secretary to government, has only encouraged "all registered voters to exercise their voting rights.

The statement said there would be no holiday during elections day.

"Polling Day is not Gazetted as a Public Holiday in Malawi. As such, 21st May 2019 will not be a Public Holiday. However, Heads of Government Ministries, Departments and Agencies are hereby requested to put in place proper arrangements for employees to go and cast their votes while ensuring that there is no disruption to public service delivery, especially delivery of essential services.

"Government further appeals to all employers, throughout the country, to allow their employees to cast their votes at their respective Polling Stations," reads the statement.

This year's election, to be one of the highly contested elections since the dawn of democracy, according to political commentators, has the governing DPP, MCP, UDF and the newly registered UTM party of incumbent state vice president Saulos Chilima, who has built a formidable following in less than ten months it was formed and is considered one of President Peter Mutharika's threat.

According to pollster Malawi Electoral Commission (MEC), there are 6.8 million registered voters expected to vote.

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