With October 9 Mzimba by-elections drawing nearer, the Malawi Electoral Commission (Mec) says it has completed the printing process of 80, 600 ballot papers which have since been earmarked for distribution this weekend.
Speaking to journalists, Mec’s chairperson of electoral services Rev. Emmanuel Chimkwita Phiri said the decision to print the ballot papers locally has helped to cut costs from initial K28 million, if they were to be printed outside the country, to K4 million.
“The idea to print the ballot papers locally has helped us to cut costs as we have only spent K4 million from the required K28 million which was needed if we were to print the papers in South Africa,” said Chimkwita.
He therefore dispelled fears that such a move would create room for tampering and rigging saying, “As a Commission, this is not the first time we have done this. In most of the by-elections we do print the ballot papers in-house.
“We have been doing this since 2009. We did print in house for the by-elections in Blantyre City central, Zomba Malosa, Machinga Southeast, Lilongwe Northwest, Mangochi Malombe, Dowa Southeast, Rumphi Central and now we have just added Mzimba Central and Mzimba Southwest to the list,” justified Rev. Chimkwita Phiri.
Meanwhile, the commissioner has hinted that the electoral body is looking at ways of building local capacity in a bid to reduce the number of services that are procured from outside the country.
Added he: “We are looking forward to the day that we will print ballot papers for general elections within the country. This also contributes to saving our hard-earned forex.”
The senior Mec official therefore promised what he called “delivering a free, fair and credible by-election in both constituencies.”
He went on to add that out of the 80, 600 printed ballot papers, 43, 900 ballots would be distributed in Mzimba central while the other 36, 700 are for Mzimba South-west constituency.
“Mzimba Central constituency has 41, 740 registered voters and it has 32 polling centers with 41 polling streams (based on utmost 1,500 voters per stream). The total number of ballot papers that have been printed for Mzimba Central constituency is 43, 900, translating to 439 books of ballot papers.
“Mzimba South West Constituency has 34, 816 registered voters and it has 30 poling centers with 36 polling streams. The total number of ballot papers printed for this constituency is 36, 700, translating to 367 books of ballot papers….All ballot papers have special serial numbers and are counterfeit proof,” elaborated the commissioner.
Meanwhile, contestants in Mzimba Central Constituency are Aram Wedson Mdala Beza PP, Owen Mkandawire of DPP, Bonfacio VVK Chidumayo Ngulube of New Rainbow Coalition (NARC), Enita Njolwa Aford while Mabvuto Joseph Kachali and Dennis Kandodo Mvula are running as independents.
While for Mzimba Southwest contestants include, DPP’s Lonard Chavula, Baxter Revival Manzunda of Aford, PP’s Raymond Chatima Nkhata and James Nthara who is standing as an independent.Follow and Subscribe Nyasa TV :