Malawi Electoral Commission admits complexity of 2014 tripartite polls

Malawi Electoral Commission (MEC) has admitted that conducting tripartite elections is a complex venture due to the management of complex logistical demands arising from increased number of candidates, polling centres and votes to be counted.

MEC chairperson Justice Maxon Mbendera Sc confessed during the opening ceremony of a briefing meeting for District Commissioners and Chief Executives from all councils in the country held in Lilongwe.

“The elections ahead of us have never had a matching magnitude of responsibility and political interest like any of those we have had before. Having three ballots might look simple from the view point of the voter as it is just an addition of one ballot box during voting while all the processes remain the same, but from those of us handling the logistics we have a different perspective,” Mbendera said.

However, he said the Commission is determined to face and overcome these challenges with the help of DCs and CEOs.

Mbendera: MEC chair
Mbendera: MEC chair

“But we can’t do it alone, we need you,” Mbendera said.

The MEC boss also said the Commission is always mindful of the huge responsibility that rests upon it, to put in place, and implement election management processes that will produce an outcome that will be accepted by all contesting political parties, and candidates.

“And we have to do so without fear, favor and prejudice. We know that we can only do so if we are meticulous in our preparations for each election. That is the more reason why,” Mbendera said.

He said MEC already started preparations for the 2014 Tripartite Elections with conducting public hearings on ward demarcations in all the councils.

“People had an opportunity to express their views on the new ward boundaries and we are creating new centres after considering requests raised during the public hearings. This is also in fulfillment of our commitment to take elections closer to the people,” the MEC Chief said.

He said since everyone will have to register since this is a new kind of election and that MEC will have a new voters’ roll there is need to encourage everyone to register in their wards.

“Since we cannot procure equipment to cover the whole country at once, we will do this in phases starting from 22 July 2013 and ending on 4 January, 2014. We shall do this in 10 phases of 14 days per phase with 3 days of transition from one phase to the other,” he said.

Mbendera said since there are indicators that the 2014 elections will be a highly contested one and that every vote will count the need for the accuracy of the voters’ roll is of critical importance in these elections.

He then announced that the Commission is recruiting Quality Control Managers to be placed in all registration centres to ensure that data capture is done according to set standards.

Meanwhile, MEC  will this Fridaylaunch the 2014 Tripartite Elections, the Civic and Voter Education Strategy and the 2013 to 2017 Strategic Plan in Blantyre.

Presidents and secretaries general of political parties registered in Malawi, government officials, civil society organisations, the academia, development partners, the media, members of the diplomatic corps and other electoral stakeholders are expected to grace the occasion.

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