95% of voting centres working: MEC admits critical challenges

Tensions that flared up with numerous logistical challenges including misplaced ballot papers and lack of ink and other supplies have been sorted out and the majority of centres were voting as of 11am Malawian time.

In the commercial hub Blantyre’s Chitawira where turn up was huge started voting three hours late, while the Catholic Institute (CI) which had threatened to cause mayhem, was also voting at the time of reporting, alongside Nancholi where demonstrations had earlier started.

Blantyre Tax office continued voting after initial disruption and the challenges, which look like to have been compounded by the inclusion for the first time of over 4,600 candidates for councillors seems to have slowly been addressed.

Joyce Banda's running mate Sosten Gwengwe voting

Joyce Banda’s running mate Sosten Gwengwe voting

Chairperson for Malawi Electoral Commission (MEC), Maxon Mbendera SC, told reporters on Tuesday that many centre voting was going on orderly.

“I am here to report that we have received information that many centers across the country are progressing well with polling,” he said.

“We are, however, aware of delays in the opening of some centers in the central and Southern region. There are reports that there are challenges with the delivery of materials to Polling Centers in these locations that have delayed their opening,” said Mbendera.

He assured that MEC is working with its officers in the field, civil society organizations, political parties and observer groups to identify and address the concerns.

“In several locations the MEC has already taken action and the voting is progressing. In other locations staff are enroute with materials.”

Nyasa Times correspondents in Nkolokoti, where there were a few ink pads saw an initial demonstration start, but later some rumour mongers alleged that there were three pre-marked ballot boxes forcing Police to evacuate the elections staff as a group of young people, some as young as 10 pelted stones before breaking into the school Headmasters office.

Reports of violence in Malawi’s Soweto, Ndirande could not be verified from social media posting, but majority of Malawi’s social media users posted fingers or in other cases, voted ballot papers indicating that they had been able to exercise their democratic right.

In Mzimba Central, ballot papers for a ward were in Mchesi but voting for Members of Parliament and President continued without any further disturbances.

Malawians were determined to stay and vote, as MEC Chairperson assured Malawians that all challenges were being taken care of and until the last man on the polling centre votes, people will be allowed to vote the allocated period.

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