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Analyst Backs Calls for Citizen Vote in Council Polls

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Dulani Dulani

A political analyst has backed calls by people asking for a review of the laws that regulate local council elections to allow citizens to vote during elections for leaders such as mayors in city councils.

Dr Boniface Dulani, a lecturer at Chancellor College of the University of Malawi, says citizens should be allowed to participate in the lections saying the current system in which only councillors and members of parliament are allowed to vote has weaknesses.

Dr Dulani says allowing people to vote during such elections would help ensure that only rightful individuals are being voted to lead councils, citing an example of countries such as South Africa and the United States of America where citizens are allowed to elect mayors of cities.

“Yes I am in support of the suggestions to review the laws to allow citizens participate during elections to elect mayors in city councils because that would ensure rightful individuals are voted as leaders” said Dr Dulani.

Dr Dulani said due to other factors including finances, only city councils should be allowing citizens to participate in council elections and that district councils which have large territories should continue with the current system.

After the recent mayoral elections held in some cities such as Blantyre, Lilongwe and Mzuzu citizens expressed mixed reactions over the process arguing it was high time the citizenry were allowed to vote.

In December 2016 and January 2017 city and municipal councils in the country conducted elections for new leaders following the expiry of the two-and-a-half year term of office for leaders elected in 2014.

Some citizens have argued some of the choices council members such as ward councillors and members of parliament who have voting powers made in the council elections did not reflect people’s wishes.

Some people in Zomba city, including Cllr Christopher Jana, observed that the laws that regulate local council elections should be reviewed to allow citizens have powers to elect leaders such as mayors claiming the current system in which only council members vote is not helping matters.

“Some political parties that have the highest representation are abusing the status by, among others, influencing their members to vote for the party’s candidates despite the person being not fit for the position,” he said.

Ministry of local government officials are yet to comment on the suggestions to allow citizens vote during council elections.

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