Malawi Electoral Commission (Mec) has disclosed that it has been forced to hold voter registration process in phases due to lack of adequate equipment that could cater for all registration centres nationwide.
The country has 4451 centres, and meanwhile, Mec is about to go into fourth phase of the voter registration process following the completion of third phase, in readiness for the 2014 tripartite elections.
In a response to Nyasa Times questionnaire, Mec Media and Public Relations Director, Sangwani Mwafulirwa said aside not having enough equipment for all 4451 centres, the electoral body avoided buying extra equipment because it expensive.
Mwafulirwa said: “Registration for the 2009 General Elections was and also now is being done in phases because we do not have equipment to open all the centres nationwide. Registration equipment is an expensive investment and we may not be getting an optimal value by investing heavily in equipment which is only used once in five years”.
However, Mwafulirwa said that holding of registration of voters in phases have offered an opportunity for Mec to check and review quality of performance and improve on it.
Asked about the event reported in Thyolo where some centres were closed for some days due to faulty printers, Mwafulirwa said the Commission was not aware of the incident, arguing they have deployed rapid response teams at every council to repair any reported faulty equipment.
“The Commission is not aware of the incident in Thyolo where registration missed for some days because of faulty printers. The Commission deployed rapid response teams to ensure registration is not disrupted when a fault is noted. In the event that the equipment cannot be repaired immediately it is replaced”.
However, last month, Thyolo District Commissioner, Bennet Nkasala disclosed that faulty picture printers affected the registration in the district, forcing some centres to go a day without carrying out the exercise.
The most affected registration centres, according to the district’s Mec office, are Folopensi and Mathimba in Thyolo West constituency, Nyodola in Thyolo Thava constituency, Masambanjati in Thyolo South West and in Mlonda in Thyolo South.
“The biggest challenge we have is that the printers are breaking down in some areas. This, we are afraid, will slow down the whole process,” said the District Commissioner in an interview