The Malawi Electoral Commission (EC) says it is not behind schedule in implementation of voter and civic education activities for the 2014 tripartite elections because it has already rolled out some activities to that effect.
EC’s Media and Public Relations Director Sangwani Mwafulirwa made the sentiments in response to a questionnaire on the state of the commission’s readiness considering that tripartite elections will be held for the first time in the country and there are only few months away.
He explained that the EC has been building capacity programmes of its commission, staff members, civil society organizations and the media, among other stakeholders.
“The activities are aimed at equipping the participants with knowledge on civic and voter education as it (EC) prepares to start implementing its activities on voter education for the tripartite elections in 2014,”Mwafulirwa said.
He also said the EC has engaged a consultant to review voter education strategy which will guide both the EC and service providers on how to conduct their activities.
Mwafulirwa further said the EC finalized accreditation of civic and voter education providers and the list of the accredited organizations was already released.
“All this is being done to ensure that the EC and its electoral partners are able to conduct proper civic and voter education exercise which will in return minimize voter apathy,” he said.
He ruled out the possibility of multiple null and void votes saying the EC was of the view that the accredited organizations have enough time and capacity to reach out to all people across the country.
Recently, Publicity Secretary for Malawi Electoral Support Network (MESN) Steve Duwa, however, said even though the EC had finalized the budgeting process it was still a long process for it to be passed by Members of Parliament.
“For the MK18.4 billion [budget] to be passed, we will have to wait for Parliament’s approval that will be a little late.
“It seems little is being seen on the ground in preparation for the elections, fears are being expressed by observers and stakeholders on the way these preparations are going including the issue to do with the budget,” Duwa said.
He added that the electoral calendar is yet to be released which is critical in guiding various stakeholders into action.
But Mwafulirwa said the EC already shared the draft calendar with its stakeholders last year and in April this year.
“The EC further requested them to be proactive in the programming by starting preparations now,” he said.
The assurance comes after several stakeholders cautioned the EC on its delay to release the electoral calendar and start the voter and civic education process.
Among the stakeholders is the United States envoy to Malawi Jeanine Jackson who reportedly advised the EC to ensure that all logistics are in place to ensure success of the tripartite elections.
The EC asked government for an advance allocation of K1.8 billion for preparatory activities that could not wait for the 2013/14 National Budget that will become effective on July 1 this year. But government did not consider the advance allocation during the Mid-Term Budget Review.Follow and Subscribe Nyasa TV :