Civic And Voter Education

Background

The Malawi Electoral Commission is empowered to exercise the general direction and supervision over the conduct of every election in Malawi. The Commission is also responsible to deliver credible elections as well as to take the necessary measures to ensure that they are free and fair and “to promote public awareness of electoral matters through the Media and other appropriate and effective means and to conduct C&VE”
The MEC developed a strategic plan with support from United Nations Development Programme (UNDP). It also embarked on a reform programme called “Between the Ballot Box’ Project 2005 – 2009 that would enable the necessary conditions to be in place for the conduct of credible elections in 2009.

 As a way of ensuring that the electorate is adequately motivated and informed, and to enable them participate meaningfully in the electoral process, the C&VE objectives are:

  1. To increase knowledge, awareness skills and attitudes about the various electoral processes and procedures and the making of informed choices among women and men, young women and young men.
  2. To encourage public participation in the various electoral processes.
  3. To promote participation of vulnerable groups such as the rural masses, women, the youth, disabled persons and those affected and infected by HIV/AIDS.
  4. To engender the right attitudes and behaviour conducive to peaceful elections and the smooth conduct of elections
  5. To build confidence and trust in the electoral processes by the electorate
  6. To increase access and quality of C&VE

Implementation Strategy

To implement C&VE, MEC will work collaboratively with and through eligible stakeholders. Over 40 Civil Society Organizations (CSOs) have been selected and funded through UNDP/MEC Basket Fund, 50/50 Campaign or the European Commission.

The long term civic education efforts are aimed at not only developing informed women and men but also to enculturate the Malawi Society with principles and practices of democratic elections.  A sustained C&VE effort can help build confidence in the electoral process to trust the ballot as the most appropriate and viable way of periodically electing leaders at all levels.
The Commission has also following strategies to mobilise people to participate in the electoral processes:

Theatre performances and road shows
126 theatre groups were trained and deployed to all 28 districts in the country. They have been conducting drama and comedy performances.

Radio and TV programmes
Most major and some community radios have been broadcasting C&VE programmes.

Faith Based and School Outreach
Letters have been sent churches and mosques informing followers about electoral process and to all primary schools informing parents through pupils.

Traditional Authority meetings
Meeting with traditional authorities have been conducted throughout the country to brief them on various stages of the electoral process.

Distribution of C&VE Material
Over 2,000,000 posters, brochures, flyers, leaflets and comics in Chichewa and Tumbuka languages will be distributed through SCOs.

Use of Loudhailers
Use of Ministry of Information and Agriculture vehicles with loudhailers to mobilise people to register in all the three regions

The MEC also makes deliberate efforts to pay special attention to gender considerations, as well as incorporating the marginalised groups such as women, the disabled and people living with HIV/AID