MEC to conduct interviews for presiding officers: Head teachers betrayed us

Malawi Electoral Commission (MEC) officials say they will conduct interviews for presiding officers in various wards and constituencies they are conducting by-elections on October 7 to void the repeat of vote counting errors that dogged the May 20 polls which forced the Commission to opt for the failed vote recount.

Chingota in interview with Nyasa Times

Chingota in interview with Nyasa Times

Chingota in group photo

Chingota in group photo

Speaking on Monday during the launching ceremony of the by-elections in Zgeba ward in Malawi’s northern boarder district of Karonga Nyungwe-constituency, MEC Commissioner Gloria Chingota said ‘illiterate’ presiding officers were the ones who made people to start blaming the Commission for announcing the results which had a lot of irregularities.

“There were a lot of criticisms on 20 May elections that the results were not a true reflection of what was on the ground because in some poling centers the figures which we received were bigger than the number of the voters and we were blamed that we did not do our job well forgetting that we just received already counted votes.

“But people who are at the tally center especially the presiding officer is responsible to make sure that the figures are correct so we were equally concerned, that is why we needed to recount but the law did not allow us,” she said.

Chingota said to avoid that blame again, “this time we will interview people who will be interested to be presiding officers in various wards and those who will be successful will be picked.

“It will not be automatic this time around for the head teachers to be the presiding officers because they betrayed us and we have lost trust in them as they failed to do the counting during the May 20 elections as was supposed to be.”

Chingota urged political parties to choose monitors which are knowledgeable on the elections to avoid cases of stealing the votes.

“We have found out that some of the monitors during 20 May elections where told that laws have changed and they were not supposed to be there when the counting was done which was a very wrong information,” she said.

Chingota therefore said MEC will also take part to train all monitors to give guidelines so that they should know their responsibilities and follow everything that is happening.

On the issue of finance as some of polling workers during 20 May elections are yet to receive their allowances, Chingota also blame the head teachers who were the presiding officers in various wards for the delay.

“The money is there but the presiding officers did not do their job well, they gave wrong information on some of the things so our financiers the UNDP want things to be properly done not as complicated as it is in some centers so we are sorting out the wrongs first,” said Chingota.

She added:  “As of now we are funded by the government and the money is already there; over K600 million in all the seven places where the by-elections will take place.”

Malawi Electoral Commission will have by elections in seven places in Malawi from 7 October 2014 and the Commission will announce the results between 9 and15 October.

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