The Yali Association Malawi Chapter proved a successful participant in Malawi’s May 2019 general elections as it managed to mobilize the youths to actively participate in the electoral process through its Malawi Votes initiative.

The initiative which was spearheaded by the sensational hashtag #Dolo Amavota, resonated very well with the youths, largely contributing to a high youth turnout, comprising 54 percent of registered voters.

Through three hashtags #Malawi Votes, #Dolo Amavota and #Vote Mphamvu Yanga, the Yali Association Malawi Chapter encouraged the youths to understand elections and civic responsibilities but also take an active role in the electoral process. 

Yali Malawi Fellows Secretary Chimwemwe Kanyika says the youths must be encouraged to exercise their voting rights and be used wisely and not to wreak havoc, violence, and confusion.

Dolo Amavota shined. The project was Malawi Vote but turned out to be Dolo Amavota and it surpassed our target, says Kanyika.

The initiative was run online through Facebook, Twitter and Instagram account as well as a chain of emails where youths had a chance to ask questions and give feedback. The project targeted 2,000 people but surpassed the target as it ended up reaching out to 8,000 people online and 2,000 more offline.

A 30 member Yali Alumni group that attended that launch of the Malawi Votes initiative divided itself into 11 groups of three each. The members were given t-shirts and caps. Then the group members worked with different youth clubs in all districts across Malawi and marketed the initiative via social media.

And after voting, the Association embarked on Ndavota campaign which literally means I have voted, where after voting, Malawians were encouraged to pass by the American Embassy to show their inked finger and were given different materials like t-shirts, pens, caps in return. Over 1,000 who showed up.

Widespread irregularities and mismanagement on the part of the electoral body, however, undermined the elections and opposition parties, as well as human rights defenders, led Malawians to protest and challenge the elections. The protest which has lasted six months now usually turns violent.

The violence engulfed demonstrations, largely involving the youths have prompted the Yali Association Malawi chapter to come up with a program to promote peaceful demonstrations. It will start soon.

Chimwemwe Kanyika (Center) pausing with Yali (Malawi Chapter) leadership
Some of the Yali Alumni attended the launch of #DoloAmavota campaign
Yali leadership engaging University students to vote

Beyond challenging the elections, the demonstrations are ironically a challenge against corruption, lack of social-economic opportunities among the youths especially high unemployment, education costs as well lack of loan sand business opportunities among other problems. Hence youths are vocal about them.

“Most of the demonstrators are not sensitized enough what it means as peaceful demonstrations, and youth are widely used. We are not against demonstrations but we want them to be peaceful not damaging people’s property and infringing on other people’s rights, says Kanyika.

With the Malawi Constitutional court nullifying the 2019 presidential elections and ordering a fresh election, the Yali Association Malawi Chapter looks forward to playing an active role in the upcoming election. It plans to replicate successes made during the #Dolo Amavota campaign.

By
Cannon Chenjezi
Correspondence Coordinator
YALI TV Malawi