All fears that violence and intimidation might mar the Parliamentary by-election in Lilongwe South proved null as people in the area wake up in the morning and went to pick their choice amongst the five candidates that were competing.
A rapid check by Nyasa Times to the constituency showed that all centres opened at 6AM and non-reported lack of materials that could have delayed start of polling.
MEC spokesperson, Sangwani Mwafulirwa said they were satisfied with the turnout of the people and the conduct of the polling process as there were no challenges.
“We opened all centres. If there are cases of delay they are minor and normally the centres extend the closing time by equivalent time of the delay because by law we are supposed to run a centre for 12 hours.
“We conducted a pre-inspection of materials yesterday (Thursday) and today there was no centre that reported shortage of any material or resource for polling. Everything is going on smoothly,” he said.
Regarding the tunout of voters, Mwafulirwa said it was a mixed cases as some centres had long queues by the time of opening while in others the queues were no long.
“We are in farming season and some people decide to go to gardens first and then show up for polling in the afternoon. We expected the figures to pick up as we go toward closing time” he said.
Being a highly contested elections and heeding the plea from the Malawi Electoral Commission regarding quality of monitors, the two major parties have left no stone unturned but use very senior members to be monitors.
Nyasa Times also bumped into many senior officials including Members of Parliament and national executive members running up and down, crisscrossing the constituency as they were busy monitoring the electoral process.
And Nyasa Times also witnessed some people being turned back because they brought national ID to use for voting but did not register as voters with the electoral body.
The MEC spokesperson also confirmed cases of people who were bringing national IDs for polling instead of the voter certificate saying the MEC teams were scrutinizing everyone.
“When people have lost their voter certificates we encourage them to bring the national ID because it becomes easier for us to search their names in the voters register as the name on the national ID is the same as the one in the voters roll. If we don’t find the name in the voters register that person is not allowed to vote,” he explained.
Mwafulirwa also commended the people of Lilongwe South constituency for maintaining peace and calm during the campaign and polling processes.
“When we resumed this process there were alternative views that we should put them on hold again because the situation was still volatile and that violence could erupt any time.
“The Commission insisted on holding the by-elections because we had an assurance from the people of the constituency that peace will prevail and they have just proved that they really meant it. We encourage others to emulate this gesture,” he said.
The parliamentary elections in Lilongwe South were first postponed because of the death of UTM candidate in the run-up to May 21, 2019 Tripartite Elections.
The Commission later planned to hold the by-elections on November 5, 2019 alongside the Local Government By-elections in Matenje ward, however, the Commission postponed the process in Lilongwe South on October 28, 2019 because of violence and intimidation that did not even spare its own staff.
The postponement of the process saw the chiefs in the area petitioning the Commission to resume the process as soon as possible as they were suffering because development activities could not take place.
Lilongwe South Constituency had an all men race in which Peter Dimba contested on theMalawi Congress Party (MCP) ticket, Julius Chombwe Grecian hoisting the Mbakuwaku Movement for Development (MMD) banner and Frank Namponya Mazizi holding the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) flag. Patson Kachingwe Mthyoka and Samson Phinifolo are independent candidates.