Voting gets underway in local govt, parliamentary by-elections

Chikwembere Ward are today casting their votes to elect member of parliament and councilors respectively.

The polling stations were opened as early as 6:00am as some voters were already in polling stations waiting to cast their votes.

In Nkhata Bay central constituency, voters had already started turning up to cast their vote in an election which is contested by three people namely, Gabriel Chirwa of United Democratic Front - UDF, Raphael Mhone of Peoples Party - PP who has been supported by all partners in the Tonse Alliance during campaign and Symon Vuwa Kaunda of Democratic Progressive Party - DPP. The constituency has about 17,689 registered voters from its two wards.

A voter casts his vote at Chinguluwe polling centre in Nkhata Bay

The voting in the constituency has meanwhile started on a low note as Nkhata Bay Town Hall which is the main polling centre with 2733 registered voters had fewer than 10 people who were waiting to cast their vote by the time the exercise started few minutes after 6:00 am.

A team of inter1 observers from Inter1 Foundation for Electoral Systems IFES are already on ground in the constituency doing their work.

Inter1 Foundation for Electoral Systems IFES, monitoring the voting process at Pundu School in Nkhata Bay central Constituency

The Nkhata Bay Parliamentary seat fell vacant when the Supreme Court nullified the constituency's 2019 poll result where Symon Vuwa Kaunda was declared winner. His main contender, Raphael Joseph Mhone challenged the result.

In Chikwembere Ward, Blantyre North voting has also started on a low note in some of the polling centres as few voters turned out to cast their votes. For instance, at Mdeka and Namitsitsi Primary Schools only a handful were present at 6 am to cast their vote. At least 17,959 voters are expected to cast their vote to choose a councillor from six candidates who are competing to occupy the vacant seat in Blantyre North.

A Lady casts her vote at one of the polling centres in Blantyre Chikwembere ward

The six are: Joyce Chimkwita who is standing on independent ticket, Flossie Hera of Democratic Progressive Party - DPP, Nelson Kalumbi of United Transformation Movement - UTM, Wyson Makungwa of Malawi Congress Party - MCP, Jacks Nkhoma - UDF and Benny Samson also on an independent ticket.

Presiding Officer at Chikwembere primary school Joana Thimba said voting commenced at 06:00 am.

The seat in Blantyre North Chikwembere Ward fell vacant after the death of Mathews Jirani.

In another local government election, four Candidates are vying for the seat of councilor in Nsanje Lalanje Ward and these are Abdulhakeen Hassan of Malawi Congress Party- MCP, Fraction Lapozo independent, Gerald Paul- Democratic Progressive Party - DPP, Henry Benford SEDA independent.

The voting process delayed in some polling stations.

For example, at Lalanje Primary School polling center, people started to cast their votes at around 6:15 am. As the case with Nkhata Bay Central Constituency and Blantyre Chikwembere, most polling centers in Nsanje Lalanje ward are facing a low turn out.

Voting underway at Bangula Primary school polling centre, Nsanje Lalanje ward

At Magoti Primary School polling centre, station 1, Presiding Officer, Smart Mponya Petros said they have had a scenario where one person's name, a male, is missing on the voters roll. Petros said the person in question has a voter certificate. He said he is liaising with the electoral body after which a decision will be made either to allow him to vote or not.

The local government by elections follows the death of the ward’s counsellor Hashim Chimuti.

17,937 voters are expected to cast their ballot in the ward which has 12 polling centres in Nsanje Lalanje ward.