“To be honest, most of us are monitors only because we are loyal to our political parties, we never fully understood our roles in elections monitoring. Thanks to CMD for organizing these trainings. We are getting out of this place fully equipped to represent our parties during forth coming Fresh Presidential Election”, admitted Ken Mzembe, a party representative who attended the training of political party representatives at Mzimba North District Education Manager’s offices.
The training sessions which were facilitated by the Centre for Multiparty Democracy from the 16th to 21st of June 2020 targeted monitors in readiness for their role in monitoring the Fresh Presidential Elections. For an election that came out of court battles following the disputed 2019 Tripartite Election, the stakes are so high and the role of monitors becomes so paramount. One of the participants feels in some cases they might not have done a very good job in the nullified election because they had insufficient knowledge of the process.
When officials tasked to distribute goats to vulnerable households in Traditional Authority (T/A) Chilooko in Ntchisi District gave Rodrick Chinsolo only MK10,000 for the fifth goat, he had to find, in his crunching poverty, an extra MK5,000 to get the animal into his kraal.
Chinsolo, from Chapulumuka Village, was supposed to benefit from a goats pass-on programme without coughing out a dime. That had been the initial arrangement; vulnerable households had been included in the national budget and the funds had been properly appropriated.
He describes the treatment he receives: from agriculture officials who were distributing goats as unfair.
In mountainous Ntchisi, farmers have defied the terrain to turn the district into a food basket despite being characterized by poor road access, limited extension advisories and lack of communication to reach out to more accessible markets, especially in Traditional Authority (T/A) Vuso Jere.
Seventy-five-year-old Chief Vuso Jere tells a story of how lack of mobile communication is crippling potential for farmers to link to competitive markets of farm produce such as legumes, cereals and Irish potatoes.
“We have to move to higher ground, where we are able to catch mobile phone signal in order for us to link to the outside world.
“This is not only affecting social services such as health and education but also agriculture as our ability to reach out to markets and potential customers is restricted due to poor communication. We are very concerned about this,” Vuso Jere says.
Centre for Multiparty Democracy (CMD) has embarked on a project to ensure accessibility and accountability to agricultural resources allocated to Ntchisi District Council.
Speaking during a pre-testing of a training manual for political party forums and women action groups at Mponela in Dowa, CMD programme officer Boniface Chibwana said they engaged politicians to monitor agricultural initiatives in Ntchisi together with women as a way of strengthening the tracking progress.
According to Chibwana, the delegates presented issues on land, food, farm inputs that hamper equitable access to agricultural resources among the communities.
Stella Chauwa, 28, is geared to tread in the land where even men think twice before they pluck courage to tread. She wants to join frontline politics and become a parliamentarian. Her dream is not without cause. “I got inspired by my grandfather who was once a parliamentarian and cabinet minister during Dr. Kamuzu Banda era, and my aunt who was also Member of Parliament,” explains the young lady. “In fact politics is in my blood because I spent more time with my grandfather and every time he would talk about politics and its dynamics.”
On the 1st of April, 2015, CMD organised a one day information sharing meeting in Mangochi as a way of providing updates on the status and progress of the project, share experiences, challenges and lessons from the collaboration with PPFs and mapping the way forward for the project into the next quarter.
In his opening remarks, the Program Manager for CMD, Dr Gerard Chigona welcomed the participants and gave a brief background on CMD and its work as a platform for dialogue for Political Parties in Malawi. He highlighted on the importance of political parties in the consolidation of democracy and their role as key actors in the development of a multiparty country like Malawi.
As part of discharging its mandate, CMD has from the past three years facilitated a dialogue on the review of the current Political Parties Act. In this process, CMD has engaged with different players in the political realm including the district, regional and national party officers, Ministry of Justice, Law commission, Office of Attorney General and the former legal affairs committee amongst others.
As part of the continual process of engaging relevant stakeholders on the drafted Political Parties Act, on the 30th September 2014, CMD convened a meeting with the newly selected Legal Affairs Committee to introduce the draft and seek their input and support before introducing the it in Parliament. It was from this that the delegates agreed on a fully-fledged meeting to fully scrutinise the proposed Act, together the technical working group who drafted the bill.