Malawi Electoral Commission forced to withdraw statement: Exposes numerical errors

The Malawi Electoral Commission (MEC) has been forced to withdraw its earlier statement informing the electoral stakeholders and the general public about the new registration equipment the body has received from development partners.

However, its revised statement has raised stakeholders’ eye brows after the commission changed as well as removed several things that were contained in the initial statement.

On Wednesday, MEC issued a statement that it has received extra registration equipment valued at US$ 535 762.50 (about K180 million), which was purchased by the donor agencies under the basket fund arrangement which is coordinated by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP).

The equipment include 308 power units costing $193 454.80 (K65million), 318 printer units bought at $209 018 (K70million) and 318 solar power units which reportedly consumed $133 289.70 (K44million).

Kalonga: MEC  changes tune

Kalonga: MEC changes tune

MEC also said in the statement $750 000, equivalent of about K252 million, which is more than 70 percent used to purchase the equipment, went into landing costs.

“The commission wishes to express its profound gratitude to the development partners for this timely support which has enabled the commission to deploy 673 teams in the fourth phase against 464 in the third and earlier phases,” MEC said in a statement signed by its Chief Executive, Willie Kalonga.

But barely few hours, the commission was forced to retract its statement citing an undisclosed error “that has been discovered” on statement.

“I wish to withdraw the statement on new registration equipment that was sent yesterday evening. There is some error that has been discovered and we are currently reworking on the statement,” MEC said in a fresh statement issued Thursday and signed by its Director of Media and Public Relations, Sangwani Mwafulirwa.

He added: “I will be emailing a revised statement on the same issue. I, therefore, request that you disregard the information contained in the statement and not transmit it further.

“I sincerely apologise for the inconvenience this may cause. Any queries please do not hesitate to contact me.”

But in its brief revised statement, the electoral body changed the quantity of the registration kits from 944 to 310 and also removed their specifics (names and costs).

MEC also removed the landing cost of the equipment it earlier indicated of US$750 000 and changed the total value of the cost from US$535 762.50 to “more than US$550 000”, thereby raising suspicions among members of the public.

A Blantyre based social and economic commentator as well as electoral activist, Haswell Mayuni, said the development has exposed the inefficiency of the electoral body.

“How can the whole CEO [Chief Executive Officer] sign for a document with figures he is not sure about, they need to explain properly what went wrong,” he told Nyasa Times.

Some electoral stakeholders have attacked the commission since the registration exercise started some few weeks ago for using faulty equipment which will likely affect the exercise.

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