News that Malawi Electoral Commission (Mec) has announced that it will carry out a comprehensive constituency re-demarcation of wards and constituencies in 2015 is very welcome.
It is clear from the public hearings that the electoral commission has understood that there is a lot of work to be done in as far as ward and constituency boundaries are concerned. People have been expressing reservations with the current set up.
There are some people who wrongly think that constituencies or wards should represent chieftaincy boundaries.
Then there are those who think the current boundaries for constituencies have deprived them of development as they have been found on the wrong side of the administrative limits.
Yet others too say the ward demarcations in the district councils have been affected because they are done according to a constituency, which does not address their concerns.
For instance, some rural areas have been included within city constituencies, thereby impacting negatively on the rural people who have special needs in their constituencies.
As it is at the moment, time may not be on our side for drastic changes to the boundaries as 2014 general elections are just around the corner. The best option before us is to give the electoral commission the benefit of doubt.
The commission says it has a strategic plan spanning the years 2013-2017. It will be good to allow it to carry out the comprehensive demarcation of wards and constituencies immediately after the tripartite elections in 2014, in line with its strategic plan.
In the same vein, we appeal to the commission to ensure in future that ward and constituency boundaries should make administrative sense.
Mec should carry out a thorough and comprehensive assessment of the current constituencies so that it can rationalise them properly in 2015 like it has planned. There are wards and constituencies which cut across traditional chiefs, towns, demographic and geographical structures that affect, negatively or positively, development plans.
All these issues have to be eventually ironed out and the ball squarely rests in Mec's court to deal with them. At the moment, the focus for Mec should be to ensure credible, free and fair tripartite elections next year.