Malawi’s 2014 polls budgeted at K18billion- Electoral Commission

The Malawi Electoral Commission (MEC) has released the final projected budget for the 2014 tripartite elections which has been pegged at K18 billion.

MEC Commissioner Reverend Chinkwita Phiri said this on Thursday to reporters after a consultative meeting on Malawi’s preparedness for the 2014 tripartite elections organized by Malawi Electoral Support Network (MESN) in the capital Lilongwe.

Chinkwita Phiri said the budget is on the higher side compared to previous electoral budgets because of several factors.

“It has gone that high because we have taken into account the current exchange rate of the kwacha to a dollar because a lot of things that are in there require buying externally.

Chinkwita: Projected budget
Chinkwita: Projected budget

“We have also factored in the new polling centres because as we went through the country, people were asking for new polling centres particularly where the population has grown so that elections are brought closer to them. And there are now 4,450 polling centres,” said Chinkwita.

However,  Chinkwita said it is more likely that the floating of the kwacha would affect the budget and that under such circumstances  they will come up with the supplementary budget.

“We discussed that with the treasury when we were finalizing the budget. So when it moves, the way to go is to have a supplementary budget,” he said.

However electoral stakeholder’s expressed dissatisfaction with what they call the slow pace in which issues relating to the 2014 tripartite elections are being handled.

MESN publicity Secretary Steve Duwa cited the delays in budgeting and unreleased electoral calendar as some of issues which are posing challenges to the 2014 tripartite elections.

“MSNE is concerned with three things: one, we don’t have the electoral calendar as of now and it will be difficult for us to start work in the absence of the electoral calendar. Secondly; the issue of the election budget, which is prepared by MEC and approved by parliament and there is need to release it because the donor will have to look into that budget and once it has approved they will know which areas they can support including the support of civil society organisations,” said Duwa.

He said such issues were supposed to be addressed in the previous sitting of parliament as it now means the “we have to wait for next sitting of the budget sessions”.

Duwa also said another problem was on harmonization of laws governing the elections.

“We are happy the we passed the tripartite Bill but that is not only enough because it only meant that as a country we can move to do tripartite elections, that’s is to elect a councilor, member of parliament  and the president at the same time. But in terms of the legal framework, that is still not there. We need to revisit the previous electoral laws so that they should be in line with tripartite elections,” he said.

But Chinkwita said the delay in coming up with the budget, was that major stake holders that contributed to the budget particularly the donor partners wanted a lot of details which including issues of getting the actual quotations.

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