MEC settles Masasa-Msongwe ward boundary dispute

By  Patricia Mtungila-MEC Stringer

The Malawi Electoral Commission (MEC) in Mzuzu has finally settled the two-and-half year-old dispute over the boundary between Masasa and Msongwe Wards after clarifying that all electoral activities in Mzuzu City will abide by the boundaries depicted on maps provided by the Mzuzu City Council.

At a closed door meeting held at Mzuzu City Council on Wednesday and attended by the Councillors Judith Chiume of Msongwe Ward and Masasa Ward’s Yonah Mkandawire, Mzuzu City Council and MEC officials.

MEC’s Regional Elections Officer for the North Tenson Singini explained that MEC had not developed any new Ward boundaries since 2014.

“The boundaries on the City Council maps are the ones that will be used until the next demarcation exercise takes place. This exercise can only be done in 2020 once new population statistics on Mzuzu City are released from the 2019 Population and Housing Census,” Singini said.

Earlier, the Masasa Ward Councilor Yonah Mkandawire explained that the long-standing dispute was compounded by the traditional leaders who were refusing to abide by the council’s boundaries in implementing development activities.

“There is no issue here. The only problem is that the chiefs, especially Chief Abel in Masasa wants the whole village to benefit from the MASAF Programme. But only a few selected, vulnerable people can participate in the Programme.

“These Chiefs confuse the village boundaries with ward boundaries and they do not know that here in town, ward boundaries prevail over the village boundaries,” said Mkandawire.

Chiume and Mkandawire

Both Chiume and Mkandawire expressed satisfaction with the response from Singini and agreed to work with MEC to civic educate block leaders and chiefs from Masasa and Msongwe Wards on the proper ward boundaries.   Mkandawire, the Masasa Councilor, however, asked   MEC to consider moving the satellite polling centre for Msongwe Ward which is currently at Masasa Clinic  away, as it is too close to Masasa School which is a polling center for Masasa Ward, in order  to avoid tension between communities from the two Wards that emanates from voting in different Wards at visible range.

At the end of the meeting which lasted approximately two hours,  MEC agreed to consider a proposal by the Msongwe Ward Councilor  Judith Chiume  to relocate  the contentious polling centre at  Masasa Clinic  further into Msongwe at Kaligomba  School.

The MEC Leader promised to address the challenges caused by the introduction of Masasa Clinic Satellite Centre before the start of voter registration in the City.

“The poling centre at  Masasa Clinic was opened for convenience, it will be sad to note that the  same polling centre is causing confusion.

“We will assess the new proposed site for the satellite polling centre. Changing of a polling centre is not easy since the polling centres are already gazetted. But moving a satellite centre will be considered after we visit the school,” said Singini.

According to Singini, MEC would soon sensitize block leaders and chiefs of Msongwe and Masasa on the correct boundaries.

And Mzuzu City Council’s Director of Administration Christopher Phiri thanked MEC for the prompt and conclusive intervention in the wrangle.Monday’s meeting follows a series of meetings organised by Mzuzu City Council aimed at resolving the ward boundary dispute. At a meeting held at Mzuzu City Council last week Tuesday, the two Councilors and the Mzuzu City Council officials agreed to wait for MEC to inform all the camps on the actual boundaries that communities in Masasa and Msongwe should follow.