Malawi officials back in Zimbabwe to collect remaining electoral material

The Malawi Electoral Commission  (MEC) says will on Saturday return to Zimbabwe to collect the remaining electoral materials it borrowed from Zimbabwe to be used during May 20 tripartite elections.

In March MEC received from Zimbabwe a consignment of   8,452 gas cylinders, 9,500 gas lamps and 350 tents a development which forced civil society organizations and opposition political parties to question MEC’s logic owing to the ZEC’s poor record of handling elections.

However, MEC’s spokesperson Sangwani Mwafulirwa says the Commission is sending trucks on Saturday which are expected to arrive in Zimbabwe on Sunday to collect the remaining 1,048 from Zimbabwe.

Mwafulirwa says stakeholders will be “informed when the goods will be brought into the country.”

Mwafulirwa: To collect remaining material

Mwafulirwa: To collect remaining material

Civil rights groups and opposition political parties in Malawi have been questioning the move by the Malawi electoral bpdy to borrow materials from Zimbabwe saying Malawi already bought lighting equipment during a previous and should not need should borrow gear from Zimbabwe.

But  Mwafulirwa said the lamps will help during the vote-counting, usually conducted at night, and the tents are for providing shelter for electoral staff.

“In previous elections we have had complaints from stakeholders that the lighting system that we were using, whether it was generators or the lantern lamps, were not providing enough light,” said Mwafulirwa.

During the arrival of the first consignment the commission invited stakeholders in the electoral process to inspect the equipment, which arrived in Malawi at the end of March.

However, a spokesman for the Civil Society Grand Coalition for Defense of Democracy and Constitution, Lucky Mbewe, said they are still suspicious.

“Our dissatisfaction comes in because the cases of Zimbabwe are very sensitive, because cases of [vote] rigging were rife during their elections,” said Mbewe. “As such, it is difficult for us to trust the Electoral Commission of Malawi, considering the timing and circumstances surrounding this particular [electoral] process.”

Mbewe says the electoral commission should have borrowed equipment from a nation with a clean electoral record, rather than Zimbabwe.

Mwafulirwa says other neighboring nations could not lend equipment because they are holding elections of their own, and Zimbabwe is relatively close.

“It was easier to get these goods from Zimbabwe because they were being brought by road and it was easier to get them faster,” said Mwafulirwa.

According told VOA, Democratic Alliance MP and South African Shadow Minister of Home Affairs Masizole Mnqasela, who observed the Zimbabwean elections, told London-based SW Radio Africa that Malawi should have come to South Africa because it has a credible electoral system and has been training many neighboring countries.

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