As voter registration is underway for next year’s tripartite elections, some shrewd Malawians are illegally producing counterfeit Malawi Electoral Commission (MEC) voter registration cards.
The country is expected to go to the first ever tripartite polls on May 18, 2014, about 10 months from now.
The syndicate, which is charging K1 500 (about US$4) for each fake card, has been exposed in the Northern Region city of Mzuzu, police have confirmed, according to published reports.
The development has created an alarm among Malawians that some politicians may make use of the racket to rig the elections through aiding ineligible people to vote.
But while confirming the existence of the fake registration cards, the electoral body has dismissed the fears saying the fake cards cannot be used to beat electoral safety measures.
MEC Spokesperson Sangwani Mwafulirwa confessed the fake certificates looks like the original one but has wrong serial numbers.
“The lamination pouches are not specific to MEC. Anyone can go to the suppliers and buy them. Therefore, without evidence, it cannot be concluded that there was insider involvement in the case,” Mwafulirwa told The Nation newspaper on Friday .
Police have since arrested two men in the city for being suspected of being behind production of the illegal voter cards production.
The two are a barber, Moses Nyati, 32, from Kayuni Village in Chief Kampingo Sibande’s area in Mzimba and 30-year-old Mervin Nqumayo, an employee of Ministry of Youth and Sports in Mzuzu.
Nqumayo comes from Thunduwike in the area of Senior Chief Mpherembe also in the same district and the case is at the Mzuzu First Grade Magistrate’s Court.
According to court records, Nyati allegedly posed as an immigration officer on June 17 2013 at the Mzuzu Immigration Offices and offered to assist 21-year-old Mwayi Chumbi to have a voter registration card to enable her acquire a passport.
The lady had gone to the Immigration offices in Mzuzu to process a passport but she did not have any identity as required by the Immigration Department and one of the IDs wanted is a MEC voter card.
Apparently, Chumbi approached Nyati, after being introduced to her by a relative, to process the voter registration card for her, which the latter is said to have done within a few hours on the same day.
Nyati took Chumbi to the Ministry of Youth offices to meet Nqumayo, who is alleged to have processed the fake MEC voter registration card at a fee of K1500.
The card had a serial number 480434698 and backdated to 2008 when Chumbi was aged 16 and at that age, she was not even eligible to vote in Malawi elections and should not, therefore, have had the card.
Nyati and Nqumayo are answering two charges: making documents without authority contrary to Section 364 (a) of the Penal Code and obtaining money by false pretence contrary to Section 319 (1) of the Penal Code and police say they may bring in more charges against the duo.
The suspects first appeared in court on June 28 where they pleaded not guilty and were granted bail after hiring a legal firm, MN Patrick Associates.
When police searched Nqumayo’s office they did not find the equipment used to process the cards but discovered three Immigration passport forms two of which had passport-size photos for one person.Follow and Subscribe Nyasa TV :