Nsanje, Independent parliamentary candidate for Nsanje North, Patrick Bande has commended the National Initiative for Civic Education (NICE) Trust for organizing a public debate for aspiring Members of Parliament (MPs) in the area, saying it would help voters to be well informed before deciding on whom to vote for on May 21.
Speaking on Tuesday during a Public Debate for Shadow MPs for Nsanje North at Fatima Community Day Secondary School, he hailed NICE for the initiative, noting that it would give both the candidates and the voters an opportunity of interacting before the elections.
Bande appealed NICE to consider organizing several debates in the constituency to reach out to more citizens especially in hard-to-reach areas like Makhanga which was disconnected from the mainland by flooding Ruo and Shire rivers.
He said, I would like request NICE to consider organizing more debates even in area very difficult to reach for people there to be well informed, too as they go to vote.
One of the participants, Robert Nyabanga concurred with Bande, noting that the debate assisted the voters to make informed choices on whom to vote for during the general elections.
Speaking on the sidelines of the debate, he asked NICE and other organizations to consider organizing a number of debates in a constituency and wards given the vastness of the areas whereby not everybody would come to one central point.
Bringing the candidates together to unveil their manifestos and answering questions during the debates is really helping us to decide who to vote for based on their strong points instead of voting by just following a particular political party or candidate, Nyabanga added.
He said NICE is doing a good job by combining the debate and conducting civic and voter education as the election is fast approaching, saying the approach would go a long way in reducing null and void votes.
NICE District Civic Education Officer for Nsanje, Kondwani Malunga said financial resources and time permitting, NICE will consider organizing debates in the requested areas.
He said NICE is using 360 degrees approach in its dissemination of information which includes use of radios such that those who do not have chance to attend the debates can listen to the recorded version of the debates on community radio stations.
The debates have several objectives; one of which is to create space for the candidates to explain to the electorate their manifestos for the voter to compare the points from the candidates and decide who to vote for.
Secondly, the debates are meant to encourage citizens to participate in the elections in a peaceful manner and to go and vote in large numbers, he said, adding that NICE was sensitizing voters how to mark the ballot correctly in a bid to reduce null and void votes during the elections, the Officer explained.
All the candidates competing for the position of MP in Nsanje North participated in the debate. The candidates include Bande, Enoch Chizuzu for Malawi Congress Party, Esther Mcheka Chilenje for Democratic Progressive Party and Kennedy Jailosi representing United Transformation Movement.
NICE is conducting the debates with financial support from the Germany Embassy and the European Union.
Source: MANA Online