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Malawi Elections Civic Guide MARCH 2014


Malawi Elections Civic Guide MARCH 2014


Authors: John M E Chipeta and Wise E Chauluka


About NDI The National Democratic Institute (NDI) is a nonprofit, nonpartisan, nongovernmental organization that responds to the aspirations of people around the world to live in democratic societies that recognize and promote basic human rights. Since its founding in 1983, NDI and its local partners have worked to support and strengthen democratic institutions and practices by strengthening political parties, civic organizations and parliaments, safeguarding elections, and promoting citizen participation, openness and accountability in government. With staff members and volunteer political practitioners from more than 100 nations, NDI brings together individuals and groups to share ideas, knowledge, experiences and expertise. Partners receive broad exposure to best practices in international democratic development that can be adapted to the needs of their own countries. NDI’s multinational approach reinforces the message that while there is no single democratic model, certain core principles are shared by all democracies. The Institute’s work upholds the principles enshrined in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. It also promotes the development of institutionalized channels of communications among citizens, political institutions and elected officials, and strengthens their ability to improve the quality of life for all citizens. For more information about NDI, please visit www.ndi.org. With the goal of advancing democratic governance in Malawi, and with generous support from the United Kingdom’s Department for International Development (DFID) and the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), the National Democratic Institute (NDI) is working with a diverse coalition of civil society organizations to promote citizen participation in the country’s tripartite elections scheduled for May 2014. NDI has operated in Malawi since the country’s transition to multiparty democracy in 1994, and has worked during and in-between election cycles to increase parliamentarians’ representation of citizen needs, contribute to political party development and promote the empowerment of civil society organizations to strengthen the country’s democratic institutions. NDI re-established an office in Lilongwe in February 2013. Responding to Malawian aspirations, NDI will be working in partnership with national and community-based organizations to increase citizen involvement in the electoral process organized around issues and to actively engage with elected public officials so that they can be held accountable for their electoral promises. NDI will also support Malawians to engage in nonpartisan citizen observation of the 2014 elections.

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Acknowledgements NDI gratefully recognizes the support of the Department for International Development (DFID) and the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), which made the publication of this manual possible. The opinions expressed herein are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of USAID, the United States Government, DFID or the government of the United Kingdom. NDI would like to recognize the important role played by Malawian experts John ME Chipeta and Wise E. Chauluka in the development of this guide. NDI would like to thank staff members who also contributed to this guide: Henry Chilobwe, Amelia Hight, Pamela Kuwali, Taona Mwanyisa and Sandy Quimbaya. Copyright Š National Democratic Institute for International Affairs (NDI) 2014. All rights reserved. Portions of this work may be reproduced and/or translated for noncommercial purposes provided NDI is acknowledged as the source of the material and is sent copies of any translation. 455 Massachusetts Avenue, NW Eighth Floor Washington, DC 20001 Tel. (202) 728-5000 contactndi@ndi.org

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Contents About NDI

Iii

Acknowledgements

Iv

Introduction

1

Using the guide

2

Lesson 1: Democracy and good governance

3

Lesson 2: Empowerment of traditionally excluded groups

5

Lesson 3: Citizenship and participation

6

Lesson 4: The role of a Member of Parliament

13

Lesson 5: The role of a ward Councilor

14

Lesson 6: Accountability and relevance to good governance

17

Lesson 7: Elections in Malawi

19

Appendices

25

Glossary of terms

25

Mec Illustration of voting on election day

26

Chiefs Code of Conduct

27

Bibliography

28

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Introduction This Guide has been prepared by national experts hired by the National Democratic Institute (NDI) Malawi Office to provide information for partners who are implementing Issue-based Civic and Voter Education (ICVE). The partner organizations were selected for support by NDI after they are accredited by Malawi Electoral Commission (MEC) and include civil society organizations (CSO) as well as community based organizations (CBO). The guide is designed to provide pertinent civic information regarding the elections in Malawi scheduled for May 20, 2014. In these Elections, citizens will elect Ward Councilors, Members of Parliament and a President, simultaneously. The overall goal of NDI’s programs in Malawi (2013-2014) is to help contribute to the advancement of democratic governance in Malawi through credible, free and fair elections. More specifically with issue based civic and voter education the goals are as follows: a)

To empower stakeholders, with emphasis on voters (without bias against women, youth, ethnicity and disability) with capacity to actively and meaningfully participate in the May, 2014 tripartite elections; and

b)

To improve capacity of voters who, through increased discussion among themselves and their candidates without bias against women, youth, ethnicity and disability, should be able to identify pertinent issues of concern, appropriate solutions and ways of how to hold elected leaders accountable.

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Using the Guide This Elections Civic Information Guide is developed to equip providers of ICVE with basic information regarding the elections and on how they can engage voters in the election process. ICVE providers in Malawi can use it as a guide to equip them with knowledge of crucial issues for successful ICVE. The Guide is expected to achieve the following objectives: i. ii. iii.

Explain the Election system in Malawi. Explain the election process and highlight the importance of the citizen’s role in the process. Explain democracy Good Governance as well as identify crucial governance institutions, what they do and how Citizens can access them.

After each section, there are a series of questions for the reader to help them consider aspects about the elections and the citizen’s role and to stimulate debate.

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Lesson 1:

DEMOCRACY AND GOOD GOVERNANCE Objective(s): At the end of the lesson participants should be able to: i. Demonstrate improvement in their ability to identify their critical role in a democracy as citizens in view of the decentralization policy Malawi adopted. ii. Define their role in ensuring good governance is observed at all times and all levels of authority. Module 1.1: Understanding Democracy and Good Governance The people of Malawi after fifty years of independence need to reflect and redefine their destiny using the democratic processes to change things for the better. One such instrument is the power of the VOTE during elections. All institutions and including a flourishing independent civil society and media must help to open up political space in Malawi. This in essence holds the government responsible and accountable for everything they do to and for their people. These collective initiatives encourage and support progress of social justice and good governance. Module 1.2: Good Governance for Development The need for good governance in running affairs of country while in public office is critical to advancing democracy in Malawi for now and the future. The vote decides who takes office of power that is entrusted to the leaders by the ordinary people who cast their vote with that understanding. Universal rights provide both the reflections and basis for good governance. Both leaders and those in public office must be accountable first to citizens. Good governance embraces the following attributes: • • • • • • • •

Promoting transparency in government at all levels Building democratic systems of government Providing effective service delivery Promoting and protecting human rights Building a strong civil society Strengthening the rule of law Strengthening media and access to information Strengthening national and regional governance

The common definition of Democracy is “the government of the people, for the people and by the people”. A democracy is a type of government system where citizens are the ultimate authority. It is the citizens who delegate authority to govern, on trust, to those elected to positions in government at national and local level. Good governance entails an unwavering commitment to operations of government guided by laws, rules and regulations that are compliant with the will of the majority of people, without ignoring the interests and rights of the minority, the vulnerable such as women, the youth and 3 M a l a w i

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the disabled. It, further, strives to uphold all universally accepted principles of Democracy that are outlined below. For a democratic dispensation to be sustainable, democratic principles need to be enculturated in the day to day life of citizens in all spheres of life. This means that democratic principles have to guide the electoral process, economic activities, and endeavors such as planning and implementing development processes; guide the political and cultural life. This requires that all citizens are guided by the spirit and desire to sustain unity in diversity which can only succeed in an environment where there is unity of purpose, tolerance and respect for laws, rules and regulations that uphold protection of human rights, empower citizens to exercise responsibilities without discrimination against women, youth and persons with disabilities; promote popular participation, transparency and accountability. The commonly accepted indicators/ principles of a democracy are: • • • • • • • • • • • •

Citizen participation at all levels (local to national level) during elections and in between elections. Respect for human rights. Tolerance and respect for all citizens. Freedom of association, expression and to undertake economic activities. Independent media - free to practice guided by ethics of the practice. Access to information (to support accountability, the assessment of performance of those elected as well as government developments at all levels). Accountability of all authorities to citizens. This provides citizens an objective way of assessing effectiveness of those in office as well as general progress in development. Rule of law, separation of powers as well as existence and operation of good governance institutions that provide checks and balances for sustenance of democracy. Political pluralism (multi-party system of government). Regular free and fair elections and respect for results (citizen’s power and responsibility to vote for the desired candidates). Freedom to assemble. Equality under the law for all citizens.

From what is outlined above, democracy is not just about holding regular periodic elections, it is much broader. The citizen is the most powerful player and stakeholder in the operation of a sustainable democratic culture. It is the citizen’s wish that defines the brand and course democracy takes. Questions for debate/ discussion: a) How can citizens hold their leaders accountable? b) What possible mechanisms can the voters put in place to get the best out of their leaders once in office, can they work together? c) What governance structures should be in place for good governance to thrive? d) What is your assessment of the state of democracy in Malawi? e) What principles/ characteristics of democracy are operating effectively in Malawi? f) What structures are available in your area that can be utilized to ensure that expectations in democracy are met? 4 M a l a w i

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Lesson 2:

EMPOWERMENT OF TRADITIONALLY EXCLUDED GROUPS Objective(s): At the end of the lesson, participants should be able to: • Appreciate the important role played by the youth and women in enriching democracy and development so that deliberate efforts are put in place to incorporate them in all endeavours. Module 2.1: Empowerment of Young People in Democracy Empowering young people to take an active role in socio-economic activities including politics enables them to be responsible citizens of the future generations. As traditionally marginalized group, youth can make their voice heard when as responsible citizens pay attention to a diversity of needs young people have in society. Their participation is no longer as leaders of tomorrow but leaders of today. Young people must participate in the management of change by design beginning now. The vote allows them to get started among them. There is no reason to watch their own future pass by in the next tripartite elections. Youth programs designed by the youth should strengthen the participation of young people than ever before. In most of the cases, the biggest challenge has been to reach all categories of youth in every community or society and to make sure that everyone has equal opportunity to participate in our democracy. The excuses no longer hold and young people as leaders of today must rise to the occasion and manage change for now and the future. Voter education is the entry point to mobilize the youth to exercise their right to vote without any hindrance. Participation in the democratic life in Malawi today is more than voting every few years, it is critical to provide opportunities for youth to get involved to influence decision-making and actions on an ongoing basis. Module 2.2: Empowerment of Women in Democracy As a contemporary nation, leaders at all levels of society must ensure that women have a real voice in all governance institutions so that women can participate equally with men in public dialogue and decision-making. In Malawi today there is a trend in the right direction but a lot remains to be done. Targeted policies must facilitate women to participate without fear. Questions for debate/ Discussion a) What are the most important aspects we should know about youth participation in democracy? b) How can we create equal possibilities for all young people to participate in community's life? c) What can be done in order to strengthen the ability of women's organizations to advocate and implement projects that promote women's rights? d) Who in society should take the responsibility of reducing gender-based violence in all its forms? 5 M a l a w i

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Lesson 3:

CITIZENSHIP AND PARTICIPATION Objective(s): At the end of the lesson participants should be able to: a) Explain what citizenship is in Malawi b) Understand their rights as citizens Module 3.1: Citizenship in Malawi: In Malawi, citizenship is provided for in Chapter V of the Constitution, Sections 47 (1 to 3). This provides as follows: 1)

Every person who, immediately before the appointed day, was a citizen of Malawi under any existing law shall continue to be a citizen of Malawi after the appointed day. An Act of Parliament may make provision for the acquisition or loss of citizenship of Malawi by any person after the appointed day, but citizenship shall not be arbitrarily denied or deprived. “Acquisition of citizenship” includes acquisition by birth, descent, marriage, registration, naturalization or any other means prescribed by an Act of Parliament; and “loss of citizenship” includes loss by deprivation, renunciation or any other means prescribed by an Act of Parliament. In addition those who are citizens of Malawi, automatically, lose their Malawi citizenship when they become citizens of another country.

2) 3)

The citizens of Malawi and all natural and legal persons are guaranteed Human Rights in line with Chapter IV sections 15 to 43 of the Constitution. These rights include: • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • •

Protect human rights and freedoms ( Section 15) Life Protect against genocide (Prevention genocide and punishment). Personal liberty Human dignity and personal freedoms Equality Privacy Family and marriage Rights of children – up to age of 16 years Rights of women Education Culture and language Protect against slavery, servitude and forced labor Acquisition of property as an individual / association Engage in economic activity anywhere in Malawi Social justice and equality from the state by accessing development particularly for the disabled 6 M a l a w i

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• • • • • • • • • • •

Fair and Safe labor practices including fair remuneration Freedom of association without coercion. Freedom of conscience (including religion, belief and thought as well as academic freedom) Freedom of expression without being gagged Ensure press freedom. Freedom of assembly, unarmed Freedom of movement and residence anywhere in Malawi To leave and return to Malawi Political rights Access to justice and legal remedies Lawful and procedurally fair administrative action

The above rights are enjoyed and claimable by citizens and foreigners resident in Malawi. On elections, the capacity to vote is outlined in section 77 of the constitution which allows citizens and only foreigners that have been resident in Malawi for a minimum of seven years to participate. It is the registered voters that are eligible to participate in the elections as voters or candidates. All the people resident in an area or the country (Malawi) are eligible to participate as the constitution guarantees the right to development. It is, however, the registered voters that retain the power to determine the fate of a central or local government through their power to for elected officials at all levels of government. Module 3.2 Citizen Participation in a Democracy 3.2.1 Civic Engagement Malawi is a representative democracy. Therefore, the wishes of the people are supposed to be conveyed to central and local government through elected representatives. The feedback from government at both levels is also linked to the grassroots through the same channel, although other players such as the media, civil society and government agencies play an important facilitator and complementary role. It would be cumbersome and chaotic if each member of the grassroots individually conveyed their demands and aspirations to government at both levels. Imagine if authorities at Central and local government levels conveyed feedback and proposals to each and every citizen, individually. The representatives are, therefore, crucial not as owners of the development agenda but facilitators and conduits linking central and local government on the one hand, with the people at grassroots on the other. 3.2.2 Citizen Participation The participation of citizens at grassroots level is paramount. It is, vitally, important that both elected representatives and constituents at national, constituency and ward levels are empowered with knowledge of the desired level of participation. 7 M a l a w i

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Understanding citizen political participation The concept of citizen participation has been defined differently by many scholars in political science and development studies. It means a process in which individuals, groups, and organizations have the opportunity to take part or to be involved in making decisions that affect them, or in which they have an interest. It is also a categorical term for citizen power. It means the redistribution of power that enables ordinary people, hitherto excluded from political and/or economic processes, to be deliberately involved. Thus, participation is a means by which the individual can induce social, political and economic reforms which enable them to bring about development, share in the benefits of a progressive society or simply solve collective problems. Achieving citizen participation requires an enabling framework of laws, policies, principles, and techniques which ensure that citizens and communities, individuals, groups, and organizations have the opportunity to take part in a meaningful way in the key arenas of political governance. This guide adopts a conceptualization of citizen political participation informed primarily by three aspirations enshrined in the Constitution of the Republic of Malawi as follows: i.

the authority to govern derives from the people of Malawi as expressed through universal and equal suffrage; ii. the executive is responsible for initiating policies and legislation and for the implementation of all laws of Malawi which embody the express wishes of the people; iii. when enacting laws, the legislature has the obligation to reflect in its deliberations the interests of all the people of Malawi.

These three provisions provide the rationale for the state of citizen political participation to be assessed in three key areas: electoral participation, civic engagement in public governance, and legislative participation. In view of the policy intention expressed in the Malawi Growth and Development Strategy (MGDS) intra-party democracy, a fourth dimension, participation in partisan politics, is added. These are defined below. Electoral participation Elections constitute an important component of democratic governance as they make possible the act of self-determination envisaged in the Charter of the United Nations and central to processes of state formation and nationhood. Citizen participation in elections consists not only of the right to vote (Universal adult suffrage), but also of the right to contest in the elections as a candidate for political office. In the context of Malawi, as in many parts of the world, electoral participation starts at primary level where citizens exercise the right to choose their party candidate. Some of the critical elements that can ascertain whether or not the right to vote is being fully enjoyed in a democratic society are the measures that are put in place to facilitate the vote; and measures that are in place to encourage voting. Measures that facilitate the vote include the institutionalization and inclusiveness of various methods through which candidates can cast their vote. Measures that are focused on encouraging voting would include 8 M a l a w i

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strategies for raising awareness about the importance of voting. Section 40 of the Constitution guarantees every person the right to vote and to stand for election for public office. For the participation of women in politics, scholarly literature emphasizes the recognition that it is through democratic representation that women’s interests can be represented and their voices heard in the governance arena. Article 7 of the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW) reiterates the importance of women’s representation in the political life of their countries. In particular, it places an obligation on member states to ensure that women, on equal terms with men, exercise the right to vote in all elections and public referenda and to be eligible for election to all publicly elected bodies. In this regard the CEDAW is supported by the SADC Protocol on Gender and Development, which obliges governments to take steps to ensure 50 percent of women representation in all leadership positions. Women’s participation needs to go beyond registering the presence of women in the electoral process and in elected bodies to include influencing the content of outcomes and decisions (i.e. beyond formal participation to substantive participation ). Civic engagement Civic engagement, sometimes described as substantive political participation, is when citizens seek to bridge the gap between them on one hand and political processes and institutions on the other. It refers to the participation of private actors in the public sphere, conducted through direct and indirect interactions of civil society organizations and citizens-at-large with government and other stakeholders to influence decision making or pursue common goals. Civic engagement is rarely used in relation to the interaction of an individual citizen with the state, but rather the interaction of a collection of individuals with a public agency. For this purpose, citizens are mobilized and act through civil society organizations or other forms of organization such as interest groups, neighborhood organizations, political parties, and business associations. Civic engagement is a process, not an event (or series of events). It is about a role for citizens in deepening democracy by participating in decision making processes that affect their lives. At its core, civic engagement is concerned with establishing channels for voice towards a more responsive and accountable state. Civic engagement can take many forms including the participation of citizens and citizens' organizations in public policy debates, public hearings, or in delivering public services and contributing to the management of public goods and services. Civic engagement is a critical factor in making development policy and action responsive to the needs and aspirations of the citizens. Therefore, assessing levels of civic engagement has three virtues. Firstly, it constitutes a vital barometer of how well a democracy is performing in relation to the needs and aspirations of the citizens. Secondly, it is an effective gauge of social and political inclusion, since engaged citizenry are a useful measure of the degree to which a society is democratized. Thirdly, it draws attention to issues of accountability and responsiveness, and therefore has the potential to contribute to poverty reduction through more poverty alleviation policy design, improved service delivery, and empowerment of groups previously denied a voice However, civic engagement that is focused on promoting the voices of the most marginalized groups in society should be bottom-up, inclusive and demand-driven, and should strive to enhance the 9 M a l a w i

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ability to make their voices heard. For Women’s civic engagement, the CEDAW is clear in its provision. It obliges states to provide opportunities for women to participate in the formulation of government policy and the implementation thereof and to hold public office and perform all public functions at all levels of government. Legislative participation One important mechanism of promoting citizen political participation is to provide opportunities for their direct say on important questions of policy in the legislative process. Citizen participation in the legislative (parliamentary) process requires an opportunity structure within the institution of parliament that allows citizens in their individual or collective capacities to state and lobby for their policy position on any relevant question that is before the Parliament. It also requires deliberate measures of promoting citizen engagement and understanding of legislative processes. These elements are particularly important because the exercise of democratic control over the legislative system and the policy-making process cannot occur unless the public has an elementary understanding of the national legislature, its membership and practices. The quality of citizen’s participation in democratic politics diminishes if citizens are uninformed about the role of the legislature in a democracy. Citizen participation in the legislative process is vital for creating a sense of legitimacy for the institution of parliament itself and especially for its outputs. The most important of these rules are those that legitimate government actions by giving citizens say in the political process . Mechanisms for citizen participation in the legislative process vary from one political system to another. However, a few mechanisms are regarded as conventional for all democratic parliaments. These include: i.

ii.

iii.

Relationship between the Member of Parliament and constituents. This entails communication and consultation between individual legislators and constituents which help lawmakers make decisions about public policy issues, provide mechanisms for resolving citizens' complaints about the government and allow an outlet for the expression of public views and opinions. In Malawi, this aspect is implicit in constitutional provisions and explicit in the Handbook for Members of Parliament. Legislative committees. Individual citizens and groups can provide written representations and present information on any issue before the legislative committees. In addition, in exercise of their investigative powers, committees can carry out public hearing or consultations on any issue within their mandates. In Malawi, the mechanism is provided for in the Constitution (Chapter VI) and also in the Standing Orders of the National Assembly (Part 31). Letters and petitions. Citizens are free to write letters to their parliament on any issue or to present public petitions to Parliament. Rules of procedure and practice often prescribe how public petitions should be handled . In Malawi, the mechanism of public petitions is provided under Standing Order No.18 of the National Assembly.

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iv.

v.

Bill presented by a Member of Parliament. This is a proposal for legislation which is prepared by a Member of Parliament and introduced in Parliament by that member .In practice, such a bill responds to some demands made by a segment of the population to which the Member of Parliament responsible for the bill is sympathetic. In Malawi, the mechanism is provided under Standing Order No.110-112. Private Bill: This is a proposal prepared by an organization (or group of citizens) that is not part of the Government and is introduced in Parliament by a Member of Parliament, on behalf of the organization or group of citizens In Malawi, this mechanism is provided under Standing Order No.113.

Participation in partisan politics The literature on democracy and democratization identifies political parties as one of two fundamental defining features of a democracy, the other being voters. Political parties compete for power by presenting a political platform that presents the party’s policy position, principles, and/or vision for the country, and voters support the political party that best aligns with their own political interests. Elections ensure that political parties work to represent the citizens’ interests and that they are held accountable by voters. Democrats and theorists of democracy hold political parties as a major, if not the major, component of a democracy. The overall view is that a strong and sustainable democracy is dependent on well-functioning political parties. Political parties articulate and aggregate diverse interests, recruit and present candidates, and develop policy proposals that provide people with choices. In essence, the fundamental trait of a democracy is the open competition between political parties in elections, by which voters can select between political parties that present a set of policy promises/ government proposals. The assessment of citizen participation in partisan politics will focus on the following elements: i. ii. iii. iv. v.

Selection/election of leaders at different levels of the parties Selection or election of candidates for national election (Local, parliamentary and presidential Promotion of women’s participation and inclusion Participation in the mobilization of finances for the party activities Formulation of policy positions on public policy questions

3.2.3 Grassroots involvement In a Democracy, the grassroots must be involved at every stage of the development cycle. This is crucial for sustainability of any development efforts, regardless of whoever is elected. The following are the levels of the development cycle which must involve full participation of the people at grassroots: a) b) c)

Identification of opportunities. These are to be based on the felt needs of the area as well as the resources that can enable success in overcoming the needs. Project preparation where proposals are made, resource requirements defined and gaps requiring help outlined. Project appraisal where, among others, the grassroots are to play a key role by answering critical questions in analyzing the viability of their proposal and make a 11 M a l a w i

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commitment to the project’s sustainability. Project implementation where the participation of the grassroots is the key, with the rest of other support being complementary to local efforts. Project monitoring and evaluation where the community should analyze the successes and challenges supported by foreign input. The monitoring is done continuously at every stage while evaluation is done periodically in the course of project implementation. Distribution of benefits/ consequences of projects not meeting expectations. This is part of the monitoring and evaluation stage where review of progress of the project is done to assess the intensions and achievements. If there are benefits, they should be enjoyed, primarily, by the grassroots. If there are negative consequences, they should, primarily, be experienced by the grassroots so that they form a basis for lessons to improve conceptualization of the project, its development and implementation.

d) e)

f)

The stages such as project conceptualization, project preparation, appraisal and monitoring as well as evaluation are mostly carried out by authorities, it is important that citizens participate in all stages to become a stakeholder in the outcome of projects. The way forward is for people at grassroots level to mobilize in order to reclaim their rightful role of demanding and sustaining ownership of the development agenda. This is a role that is placed in their hands by the democratic laws of Malawi particularly with the devolution of power as a result of the decentralization policy currently in place. Questions for discussion/ debate at community level: a) b) c) d)

What do you value most about being a Malawian citizen? What do you propose to change in provisions on citizenship? How do you propose to participate in your community? What institutions/ structures are available in your area that can help you to claim your right to participation in development?

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Lesson 4:

THE ROLE OF A MEMBER OF PARLIAMENT Objective(s): At the end of the lesson participants will be able to: • Understand the role of a Member of Parliament Module 4.1 As described in Section 49 of the Constitution the Parliament in Malawi consists of the President as Head of State and the National Assembly. Section 66 outlines the functions and powers of the National Assembly. For functions and powers of the National Assembly, section 66 provides as follows: a) b)

Passes/ rejects bills which are either brought by government or private members who are supposed to be guided by the wishes of people in their constituencies. If passed, the bills may be accented to/by the president to become law. Provides oversight on functions of the Executive Branch of Government as a way of providing checks and balances, a crucial role for sustenance of Good Governance and democracy.

In a Representative Democracy like Malawi that has adopted a decentralization policy through devolution of power to the local government; the following is a description of the Role of Members of Parliament: a) b) c) d) e)

To represent the interests of Constituents inside and outside Parliament. These may include but not limited to laws to be enacted, contributions to debate on development and motions; Contribute to the provision of oversight on the Executive Branch of Government through plenary and relevant committees. Provide a linkage between Central Government and constituents (a conduit for communication between the two sides). Facilitate the development wishes of the constituents through information sharing, consultation and persuasion of and building consensus with constituents, as well as coordination with other relevant development agencies. Playing a pivotal role in funding local development projects at constituency level using the Constituency Development Fund that is allocated in the National Budget for each Member of Parliament - channeled through the local Council. Questions for discussion/ debate a) What do constituents value most in a Member of Parliament? b) What Challenges do constituents face when interacting and communicating with their Members of Parliament? c) What can constituents do to overcome these challenges? 13 M a l a w i

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Lesson 5:

THE ROLE OF A WARD COUNCILOR Objective(s): At the end of the lesson participants will be able to: • Understand the role of a Ward Councilor Module 5.1 The functions of the Local Council are as outlined in the Local Government Act of the Laws of Malawi. The Council shall perform the following functions: (a) To make policy and decisions on local governance and development for the local governance and development for the local government area, (b) To consolidate and promote local democratic institutions and democratic participation, (c) To promote infrastructure and economic development through the formulation, approval and execution of district development plans within its jurisdiction, (d) To mobilize resources within the local government area for governance and development, (e) To maintain peace and security in the local government area in conjunction with the Malawi Police Service, (f) To make by-laws for the good governance of the local government area, (g) To appoint, develop, promote and discipline its staff, (h) To cooperate with other councils in order to learn from their experiences and exchange ideas, and (i) To perform other functions including the registration of births and deaths and participate in the delivery of essential local services. In addition to the functions specified, the Council shall also perform the functions that include: clinical health services, environmental protection, burial of the deceased, control of nuisances, roads and streets, hazardous materials, emergency services, public amenities, buildings and structures, control and licensing of business and trades, markets and retail facilities, trading undertakings, fees and charges, tourism and conferences, civic offices, halls and public buildings, civic regalia, management of the council’s estate, development plans, and other functions. Ward councilors play a very important policy-making role, requiring the identification of community needs, setting objectives to meet those needs, establishing priorities between competing demands and allocating resources. The role of elected councilors, as stipulated in section 59 of the Local Government Act is to:

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a) Actively review matters and debate council issues including decision making processes; b) Review councils’ objectives and policies to ensure that they are appropriate for the local area; c) Review resource allocation, expenditure, activities as well as efficiency of service delivery; d) Councilors play a very important policy-making role, requiring the identification of community needs, setting objectives to meet those needs, establishing priorities between competing demands and allocating resources.

In summary, Councilors are important representatives of the people. Therefore, they are supposed to be guided by the concerns of their constituents in engaging with the Council and all other Stakeholders in and out of the Council. Since Malawi adopted a decentralization policy, development initiatives at a community level are handled at Council level. This places Councilors at the center of most development projects that are needed and implemented at this level. However, as is the case with Members of Parliament, they should play a facilitator role, as the agenda is owned by the citizens they represent at grassroots level. Citizens retain the mandate to hold their elected councilors accountable. How citizens can contact their Councilor: The ideal situation is that the Ward Councillor as an elected representative is expected to take the initiative to convene interactive sessions with constituents. However, in situations where the Ward Councillor is elusive, it is advisable for constituents to organize themselves in local structures at various levels or through civil society organizations or indeed the media. This is to enable them to develop consensus on needs and priorities before taking the next step which is to demand contact with their Ward Councilor.

14 http://www.mec.org.mw/Portals/0/Repository/Flyer_-_Ward_Councillor_and_MP.pdf

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Roles of Members of Parliament and Ward Councilors at the local level Member of Parliament (MP) • • •

• • •

Ward Councilor

Represent citizens and their concerns at the district level in councils Represent local concerns in national forums such as the National Assembly Advocate on behalf of their constituents to the national government and in particular resources for their district councils Scrutinize use of public resources and service delivery by local authorities Inform citizens about council resolutions Vote on the district council and participate in Area Development Committees

• • • •

• •

Represent citizens at the ward level and in the district council Represent wards in the district councils Promote service delivery plans and equitable distribution of services Advocate to MPs on behalf of their wards on matters that require a national response, and for delivery of national services such as water, electricity, and relief in major disasters Provide oversight of Council Secretariat expenditures and service delivery in their wards and districts Facilitate implementation of local development as well as receive, review proposals and pass budget on the local development plans

Questions for discussion/ debate: a) What do constituents value most in a Ward Councilor? b) What challenges do constituents face interacting and communication with a Ward Councilor? c) What can constituents do to overcome these challenges? d) What are the available structures in your area which citizens can use to make their Ward Councilor more effective and responsive to their concerns?

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Lesson 6:

ACCOUNTABILITY AND RELEVANCE TO GOOD GOVERNANCE Objective(s): At the end of the lesson participants will be able to: a) Explain what accountability is. b) Outline what action constituents can take to ensure accountability by their elected representatives at National, Constituency and Ward levels. Module 6.1: What is Accountability? The simplest way to define accountability is that it is about being answerable. Answerable to whom? The people who delegate authority to govern! It has already been stated earlier that elected officials in government at National, Constituency and Ward levels exercise authority delegated by the grassroots in the country. The authorities enact laws, by-laws, rules and regulations on behalf of the people. The authorities are expected to conduct themselves in line with the said laws, by-laws, rules and regulations on behalf of the ultimate authority in a Democracy – the citizens. The structure of a democratic government allows for accountability within and outside its structure in order to ensure that the laws, rules and regulations are complied with by all, on behalf of the grassroots/ common people. Citizens have every right to demand answers from authorities on their own as individuals or as a group. This group role is also played by civil society organizations and other sectors such as media and religious institutions. 6.2 Separation of powers and Accountability A democratic government is supposed to observe separation of powers between the Executive, the Legislature and the Judiciary: • •

The executive implements/ uses the laws on behalf of the citizens The Legislature enacts laws that are used by the executive to govern the country, and also oversees the executive to ensure that the power to govern is not abused. The Judiciary interprets the laws and checks the Executive and the Legislature against abuse in the use of the powers also on behalf of the people.

In addition, government may have additional structures that checks against abuse of the powers that are delegated by the people such as: • • • •

Office of the Director of Public Procurement (ODPP) which checks procurement processes Anti-Corruption Bureau which prevents and combats corruption and fraud at all levels of Government and all sectors of society. The Auditor General who provide oversight of theft of resources The Ombudsman who provide oversight of government administration 17 M a l a w i

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Accountability is an important indicator that a government is responsive to citizen concerns. However, Accountability’s impact is enhanced when it works where there is transparency and access to information. Transparency enables citizens to access information resulting in enhanced confidence in their government authorities and administration. Principles of good governance entails an unwavering commitment to operations of government guided by laws, rules and regulations that are compliant with the will of the majority of people, without ignoring the interests and rights of the minority, the vulnerable such as women, the youth and the disabilities. At a local level citizens can enhance their capacity to ensure accountability of their elected representatives by doing the following: • Prior to any agreement between the electorate and the candidates issues must be very clear to both parties since such expressed issues form the basis of a social contract against which the elected officials will be held accountable. However, citizens must do certain things like: • Working in groups or local structures at different levels; community, area, village, district and national level to identify needs and priorities that have common appeal which need intervention. • Hold interface meetings with various prospective candidates for local, parliamentary and presidential elections in order to hold them accountable to their promises. • Candidates and the people at the relevant levels (local, constituency and national) need to draw up a binding social contract between contesting candidates and the electorate with the support of civil society groups as well as the media. Those that succeed in being elected will be expected to comply with the terms of the agreement. • Where there are departures from the agreement, communities should, with the support of civil organizations and or the media should demand answers from their elected representatives. In cases where the legal provisions allow for recall for elected representatives, citizens would use their findings/evidence to justify their course of action. Questions for discussion/ debate: a) What structures for accountability exist within government in Malawi at national, district and community level? b) Are reforms needed to enhance accountability in Malawi at National and local level? c) How can the vulnerable groups that are largely excluded from decision making such as women, youth and the disabled be integrated in community efforts to enforce accountability at all levels? d) How can community structures such as Civil Society, religious bodies, the media and other relevant stakeholders be engaged by the general public to strengthen its efforts to enforce accountability from authorities?

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LESSON 7:

ELECTIONS IN MALAWI Objective(s): At the end of the lesson, participants should be able to: • Learn about the election system in Malawi. Module 7.1: The Election System in Malawi

Malawi has a Presidential system of government in that, the President is mandated to form a government by choosing a cabinet and retains executive powers. The election system in Malawi facilitates voters to choose candidates. In Malawi, a candidate for any election whether it is for local government, parliamentary or presidential, may belong to a political party or be independent. The election system is also referred to as “first- past the post” because the winner is determined by a simple majority of votes. For example, even where the difference between the looser and the winner is one vote, a candidate can be declared elected. Module 7.2 Importance of Elections Objectives: • Recognize the role elections as a tool for empowering citizens Elections in Malawi are conducted after every five years. In the past, Parliamentary and Presidential Elections have been conducted concurrently since 1994. The elections in 2014 will be the first to be Tripartite in nature i.e. having local government, parliamentary and presidential elections at the same time. It is the voters who retain the power to vote for or veto any candidate. This is a very important power that needs to be exercised responsibly by making an informed choice not clouded by violence, intimidation, misinformation, bribery and corruption. In a democracy, elections provide an important opportunity for retaining or renewing leadership at all levels. Elections are expected to deliver a result that reflects the will of the majority of the people, without excluding the women and youth who are the majority in Malawi. All citizens, particularly the vulnerable groups such as women, youth and the disabled need every effort from electoral authorities, government, civil society, the media, etc., to be empowered with skills and knowledge of the electoral process as well as mobilization and motivation for them to take an active part in the election. Questions for discussion/ debate: a) How can women and the youth be encouraged to participate effectively in elections at all levels? 19 M a l a w i

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Module 7.3 The Malawi Electoral Commission Objective(s): At the end of the lesson participants should be able to: • Develop knowledge about the role of the Electoral Commission. The mission of the Malawi Electoral Commission (MEC) is: As an independent constitutionally mandated and impartial institution, the Malawi Electoral Commission shall professionally deliver credible, transparent, inclusive, efficient and cost effective elections to promote and entrench democratic values and peace in Malawi. The role of the Electoral Commission is provided for in Section 75 of the Constitution and Part II: 3 to 7 of the Electoral Commission Act. The Electoral Commission is empowered to delegate all or any of its powers and functions to its committees or staff. It is further mandated to operate in an independent manner. The President of Malawi is empowered to appoint members of the Electoral Commission prior to consultation with Political Parties represented in Parliament. In brief, the Electoral Commission has the following functions: a) b) c)

Supervisory functions over the conduct of elections, Directly conduct elections, Determine written complaints and petitions. Challenges to its rulings can be appealed to the High Court.

The Electoral process in Malawi is implemented by the Electoral Commission. The electoral Commission is guided in its duty by the Constitution of Malawi, the Electoral Commission Act, the Parliamentary and Presidential Elections Act and the Local Government Elections Act. The duty of stakeholders is to: i. ii. iii.

scrutinize the electoral law to ensure that it complies with democratic standards internationally ensure that it administers elections in compliance with the law, has political will at all times to be transparent and accountable to all stakeholders committed , at all times, to political impartiality

The electoral process in Malawi includes the following stages (effort has been put into listing them down in chronological order). Some activities are continuous throughout the process, others take place simultaneously. a) b) c) d)

Planning (Electoral Calendar) Delimitation of boundaries for wards and constituencies Registration and Monitoring Inspection of Voter’s Role

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e) f) g) h) i) j) k) l) m) n) o) p)

Nomination of Candidates for Presidential, Parliamentary and Local Government Elections Campaigning Printing of Ballot papers Distribution of Voting Materials Voting and Monitoring Counting of Ballots at polling station / Centre Signing for the results at Polling Station/Centre by Political Party Monitors and Presiding Officer and distribution of Copies of Results to Monitors as well as posting the same on a Notice Board on sight Transportation of results and Voting Materials to and Tabulation of results at the Tabulation Centre (Chaired by a Returning Officer) Tabulation of results at the Tabulation Centre Submission of Results to the Malawi Electoral Commission (MEC) Tabulation of Results for Presidential Elections from Constituency Tabulation Centres by MEC Announcement and Publication of Official Results for all Elections by MEC

Civic Education, media coverage, determination of complaints, acquisition of election materials, and Domestic and International Observation are continuous in the electoral process. In case of determination of complaints, these may go long after the announcement of results. The law requires that every eligible voter who has a complaint to put in writing before submission to the electoral commission or its agents. For success, every complaint needs to stand the test of legal scrutiny. Questions for Discussion/ debate: 1. Who are the electoral officials that are within your reach in your area or community? 2. In the absence of MEC officials what are the Civil Society Organizations that can help you to access MEC? 3. What are the challenges you face with the current election system and process? How can they be resolved? Module 7.4 The Role of Political Parties in Elections Objectives: At the end of the lesson, participants shall be able to: • Understand the role of political parties in the Electoral Process. Malawi adopted multiparty democracy after referendum in 1993. This entails having more than one political party. The parties are important in the growth and sustenance of democracy in the following ways: •

The party or parties in government have influence in setting the national agenda for

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development to be followed by government thus inside and outside parliament. The parties in opposition provide checks and balances to those in power both inside and outside parliament.

“Political parties are institutions unlike any other formal organizations in the world. Parties are players in a dynamic and demanding environment. Parties are expected to be able to fight and win elections, develop policy ideas on a broad range of topics, communicate effectively to an increasingly distracted electorate, raise enough money to support themselves, manage the expectations of a population, and implement a legislative agenda either as government or opposition. Parties are expected to be active and engaged seven days a week, 365 days a year. This is a varied and challenging list of expectations for any institution. To survive and thrive in these conditions, political parties must be responsive to opportunities for growth, development and transformation.” Political parties and candidates are important stakeholder in the electoral process. They should follow the administration of an election at every stage for them to have confidence in the process and respect its outcome. The most continuous function of political parties is to monitor the conduct the process to ensure that it is complying with the provision of the law and also adheres to principles of freedom, fairness and credibility. Prior to the electoral process, political parties and the Electoral Commission carry out an assessment of the legal framework. Where shortfalls are noted, both sectors can use appropriate mechanisms and legal means for ensuring that the needed reforms are made to enhance the credibility and fairness of the process. Where a Party notes irregularities in the implementation of the process, it is entitled to complain in writing to the Electoral Commission. In cases where the party is not satisfied with the Electoral Commission’s decision, it can appeal to the High Court. The Electoral Commission on the other hand, as part of its mandate maintains a commitment to transparency, accountability and impartiality to all stakeholders. Questions for discussion/debate: a) Why are political parties important to democratic development? b) How can civil society, religious bodies and the media be engaged to improve accountability of elected officials at all levels? c) How can the women and youth participate in efforts to enforce accountability of elected officials? Module 7.5 Manifestos and Voter Education In order to make an informed decision, citizens must listen to issues being raised by prospective public officers without any hindrance. The manner in which issues are raised and presented should also provide the practicality of the promises. The ability to see which promises are viable ultimately rests with the voters who must be convinced and satisfied that indeed there is potential and merit making a difference in the lives of people right from grassroots. Citizens must allow the candidates to present their agenda which must always

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resonate with people’s aspirations. The voter is the most important stakeholder in determining the fate of political parties. All registered voters must know that they hold the power to make a difference in Malawi through their government and with their candidate selection. Questions for discussion/ debate: a) Why is it necessary to listen to the party manifestos? b) Whose responsibility is it to elect a candidate of choice?

Module 7.6 The Role of Independent International and Domestic Observers Objectives: At the end of the lessons, participants should be able to: • State the role of non-partisan observers in enhancing credibility of the electoral process in Malawi • Identify the challenges in election observation Observation of Elections is provided for in Part X of the Parliamentary and Presidential Elections Act and Part IX of the Local Government Elections Act. On the scope of observation, Section 103 of the Parliamentary and Presidential Elections Act includes appointment of the Electoral Commission up to determination of results and settlement of election petitions. However, Section 86 of the Local Government Act covers the period from Voter Registration to determination of results and settlement of election petitions. The forthcoming elections will be Tripartite in that it will combine Parliamentary and Presidential Elections with Local Government Elections. Section 8 (1) (m) of the Electoral Commission Act gives mandate to the Electoral Commission to take measures and to do such other things as are necessary for conducting free and fair elections. There are typically four categories of monitors: electoral officials, political parties, local media and nonpartisan organizations (international groups complement efforts of the national organizations). This portion of the guide will focus on the nonpartisan organizations. It must be noted that the involvement of nonpartisan observers (both local and international) is a way of ensuring that the electoral process is implemented in a transparent manner, which enables all stakeholders to be accountable for their actions. Their primary concern is on the election process rather than the outcome of an election. Election observation worldwide is organized to enhance the confidence of stakeholders, particularly, the electorate as well as boost the credibility of the electoral process. The presence of International Observers adds to the credibility of the process as the expectation is that international standards are safeguarded. Citizens can either provide complaints to MEC officials directly or utilize the national and international observer groups as channels. 23 M a l a w i

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It is the primary duty of citizens, above all other stakeholders, to scrutinize the Electoral Legal Framework, the Electoral Commission and Electoral Process to ensure that it complies with Democratic Standards Internationally. Questions for discussion/ debate: a) What steps will be taken at community level to enhance election observation? b) How will local impartial NGOs be engaged to buttress community efforts?

Module 7.7 The Role of the Media in Malawi Elections Objectives: At the end of the lesson, participants will be able to: • Explain the role of the media during elections The media serve as a channel for communication that links sources of information with the target audiences. It may be information from authorities on elections to all other stakeholders or specific stakeholders such as voters or candidates. The media is classified according to the type of technology they use to transmit the information, such as the print media, online, radio or a combination of all. Media may also be classified in terms of ownership. For instance, public media is owned by government or private media or other such as religious, etc. As a provider of information, the media is a key player in the realization of accountability as it enables the recipients of information to access crucial information such as the legal framework on elections, administration of the electoral process, the results of an election and the challenges being encountered, among others as well as the reactions (feedback) of the intended targets of the information. The media can also transmit information from the grassroots in terms of their demands for reform, how, where and when such reforms are needed, among others, as well as reactions from authorities (feedback). In short, the media can ensure transparency which is crucial for the fulfillment of accountability, among other roles.

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1.Appendices: Quick Glossary of Terms • • • • • • • • • •

Accreditation: official recognition by Malawi Electoral Commission for an organization to participate in the provision of civic and voter education. Ballot: a document used to indicate candidate of choice in an election Candidate: a person nominated to stand in an election Civic education: imparting of skills knowledge and attitudes to enable voters participate in public life Civil society organizations: institutions established by people with common interest to advocate for a social need. Constituency: an area that an elected member of parliament represents Electoral official: a person officially appointed by the Electoral Commission to perform designated role in the electoral process Electorate: eligible voters in a ward, constituency or country Observer: an individual representing himself or a local or international organization authorized by the Malawi Electoral Commission to assess electoral process with a view to uphold the integrity of the process impartially Ward: an area that a Councillor represents in a District Council

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MEC illustraion of voting procedures on election day

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Chiefs Code of Conduct Section Four: Responsibilities of Chiefs a. b. c. d. e. f. g. h. i. j. k. l. m. n. o. p.

Ensure that candidates and political parties are conducting peaceful campaign. Conduct civic and voter education meetings through every available opportunity e.g. weddings, funerals, development meetings, ADCs, VDCs, churches, mosques etc. Encourage people to listen to Radio, watch TV, read Newspapers, attend campaign rallies conducted by various candidates and parties Mobilize people and encouraging them to vote on 20th May 2014. Providing equal treatment to candidates and parties to campaign freely in their area Display nonpartisan behaviour Refrain from forcing voters to vote for a candidate of the Chief’s choice Refrain from wearing material or colours that will be identified with a particular candidate or political party. Refrain from showing behavior that will be construed as promoting a particular candidate or party Refrain from receiving cash, material, food, clothes and any other goods with a view to promote or favour a particular candidate or political party Refrain from confiscating goods, land or any property or intimidating people because they are not supporting a particular candidate or party Refrain from bribery and corruption Refrain from promoting violence and disunity promoting peace campaign and elections Refrain from going to Radio, TV, public meetings to announce that chiefs have endorsed a candidate or party or to denounce certain candidates Refrain from being appointed monitors of candidates and parties Promote professional public

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Bibliography a) b) c) d) e) f) g) h) i)

The Malawi Electoral Civic and Voter Education Strategy for the Tripartite Elections in 2014. The National Democratic Institute (NDI) Issue-Based Civic and Voter Education Program Document The Electoral Commission Act of the Laws of Malawi. The Parliamentary and Presidential Elections Act of the Laws of Malawi The Local Government Elections Act of the Laws of Malawi. The Local Government Act (Malawi). The Constitution of the Republic of Malawi A Government of Zambia Document: Governance (National Capacity Building Programme for Good Governance in Zambia) – March, 2000. A National Election Systems Trust (NEST) Publication: Free and Fair Elections Start with Me – An ABC Glossary of Election Words and Terms.

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Malawi elections civic guide 2014