Sunday, May 26, 2024

Diaspora’s Guide to Malawi’s 2025 Elections

MEC Chairman; Kachale

As Malawi prepares for the upcoming 2025 elections scheduled for September 16, 2025, citizens residing outside the country (diaspora) who aspire to participate in the elections should acquaint themselves with the electoral procedures. This post aims to serve as a guide for those abroad and, perhaps, as a reminder for the local population about important dates related to various activities of the Malawi Electoral Commission.

The polling date for this General Election is set in the Constitution as a Tuesday in the third week of September of the election.  It will be 16th September, 2025.

The voter registration exercise is scheduled to run from September to December 2024 and everyone born on or before 16 September 2007 should register. So, as a starting point, everyone in the Diaspora interested in participating in elections has to come back home and register. The Presidential, Parliamentary and Local Government Elections Act has limited the Commission to establish registration centres in the gazetted constituencies only. No centre can be opened in an embassy or any place outside the country. The dates were announced in good time so as for everyone to have ample time for planning holidays and travel.

The sole identification for voter registration is a national ID. Those in the Diaspora with no national IDs should start the process of getting one now so that they will be able to register as voters.

The law requires a registrant to present himself at the registration centre. There is no registration by proxy, postal, online, or other methods apart from the one requiring physical presence at the centre.

And then after voter registration there will be a window, between March and April 2025, for registrants to inspect their details in the voters’ register. Apart from displaying the voter register at all centres, the Commission shall also provide platforms for online and mobile phone verification so that people can verify in the comfort of their homes and offices.

For those interested in contesting as candidates the Commission has staggered dates between April and June 2025 for payment of nomination fees, collection and presentation of nomination papers for the three elections. Nomination fees can be paid, and nomination papers collected, on behalf of a candidate. It is a requirement that a candidate should sign the nomination paper affirming the interest to contest. So, if a candidate is outside the country, they should find a means of signing the nomination papers.

Presentation of the nomination paper can be done by a representative of the candidate. Candidates should critically look at the eligibility criteria. Those with duo citizenship are not eligible to contest.

The campaign period is fixed by the law to be a period running for calendar 60 days and ending 48 hours before the commencement of polling. For the 2025 General Election, this shall run from 15 July 2025 and end at 6.00am on 14 September 2025.

In Malawi, the laws do not allow for Absentee Voting. On polling day every registered voter has to present themselves at a centre where they registered or transferred to and cast their vote. There is no online, web-based, postal, and mobile voting. So, every registered voter based outside the country will have to come back home and vote.

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