Donors commend Malawi Electoral Commission for registering 6.8 million voters in biometric system

Malawi’s development partners have commended the Malawi Electoral Commission (MEC) for successfully registering 6.8 million voters in the first ever digitized voter registration process which used the Biometric Voter Registration system.

Some of the signatories: British High Commissioner Holly Tett (L) AND German Ambassador to Malawi, Jurgen Borsh

The development partners; Britain, Iceland, Japan United States of America, Mozambique, South Africa and, Zambia  said this in a joint  media statement issued on Wednesday through  their Embassies in Malawi.

“We commend the Malawi Electoral Commission for the successful registration of 6.8 million(preliminary) voters nationwide in Malawi’s first biometric voter registration process and applaud the MEC, NRB staff and all those involved in this important achievement.

“Thanks to the national ID and the rigorous process, Malawi will for the first time have a comprehensive voter roll guaranteeing one person and identity, one vote,” reads the statement  made available through the MEC public relation’s office.

And  the Church of Central Africa Presbytery (CCAP)  Livingstonia Synod  through it’s Executive Director Moses  Mkandawire has said that  the   registering of 6.8 million voters out of the projected 9 million is a wake up call for electoral stakeholders to work harder to mobilize citizens to participate in democracy.

“In terms of sustainability of democracy then we should  be able to question would our democracy actually sustain itself if people who are actually supposed to contribute to the sustenance of democracy are running away from participating?

“An election is one of the critical components within the entire framework of democracy. So it’s a challenge, it should be a wakeup call for some of us who are supposed to be mobilizing people to say come and register,” said Mkandawire.

He was, however, quick to point out that the lower voter registration figures could be simply a reflection of the actual eligible voters on the ground since the MEC and NRB were able to deter ineligible voters from registering  unlike the case in the previous voter registration exercise where thousands of  ineligible voters swelled the voter’s roll only to be removed after scrutiny.

But George Allan Phiri,  a lecturer in the Faculty of Social Sciences at the University of Livingstonia, has   highlighted a heightening lack of trust in politicians among Malawians due to  the lack of good governance as threatening  increased active citizen participation in politics.

“ The reason for this is loss of trust in the politicians. There have been several issues which people have raised against the Members of Parliaments, councilors and the President in the Country and this has made the loss of interest in most Malawians not only for Mzuzu,” said Phiri.

Meanwhile,  the Development Partners  have urged  registered voters in the Country to  verify   their names in Voter’s Roll which MEC is expected to release in some weeks.

“In the coming weeks, the voters’ roll will be available for public review and verification, the most effective means of ensuring the accuracy of the voters roll. We  encourage voters to take the opportunity to ensure their names are on the list,” the statement reads in part.

The MEC Spokesperson Sangwani Mwafulirwa  has said that MEC would soon meet to discuss the way forward on the official results of the 2018 voter registration.

According to an announcement by MEC earlier this year, Voter verification is the next agenda on MEC’s electoral calendar. During the process, MEC is expected to open all registration centres for voter verification in order to give  an opportunity to voters to   identify and correct anomalies before polling day.

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