Malawi Electoral Commission static since 1998:  Financial challenges halt functional review

Malawi Electoral Commission (Mec) has not undergone any comprehensive functional review since 1998 when it was established and started operations, it has been revealed.

Justice Ansah: Financial challenges

Mec Chairperson, Jane Ansah told Parliamentary Committee on Government Assurances and Public Service Reforms in Lilongwe on Tuesday that the structure for the Commission has remained static since it was established.

And despite recommendations by engaged consultant with support from the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), the process has stalled due to what Ansah described as financial challenges.

Ironically, the Commission was in recent past implicated in fraud and expenses scandal as revealed by a final investigative audit report that covered July 2012 to December 2014.

“The Department of Human Resources Management and Development (DHRMD) which is under the Office of the President and Cabinet (OPC) was engaged to do this. However, this exercise has stalled due to financial challenges,” explained Ansah.

Ansah disclosed that they have since factored in the budget for 2017/18 financial year a component to commence and conduct a functional review process.

“This functional review will be conducted reflecting on the report whose study was conducted with support from the UNDP in 2008 and reviewed in 2015.”

Aside from failing to have the comprehensive functional review, Ansah revealed that the Commission is currently facing serious transport problems.

“The current fleet within the Commission is aged and was supposed to be replaced in 2013. Government had bought 10 Land Cruisers only which went with the old Commissioners as part of their Conditions of Service.

“The current Commissioners have no official vehicles allocated to them and some have to use their personal vehicles for official errands. The use of aged fleet has increased maintenance costs which erode a good part of funding for Recurrent Transactions,” said Ansah.

She said the Commission’s vehicles were in a bad shape and constantly breakdown, adding that the state of the vehicles pose a great risk to Mec staff.

The Commission recently received from UNDP financial support that was used to procure three Saloons, two Toyota Fortuners, 3 Trucks, one 32 Seater Coaster and three Toyota Hilux pickups.

“But these vehicles are not enough to meet the transport requirements for Mec. We will continually engage the relevant authorities and all Institutions of good will to come in and assist with resources and equipment in order to perform to the expected standards.

Mec is also facing challenges with warehousing and office space, and is has no offices in other regions and uses rented premises.

“The same office space challenges extend to district offices. Mec is hosted at Council offices and most of the structures are in dilapidated state. In the long term, Mec would want to delink the district offices from the Councils so that they stand alone. This will foster the perception of independence for the commission,” added Ansah.

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