Malawi Electoral Commission (MEC) chairperson Justice Dr Chifundo Kachale has warned media houses in the country to tread carefully when publishing unofficial results, saying the move has the potential of misleading the nation.
Kachale made the remarks Wednesday morning during the second briefing on the first day of the eight days of vote tallying at the National Tally Centre at College of Medicine in Blantyre.
“We are not transmitting any results of now. In fact, first results are not yet in. However, there are unofficial results circulating in the media, especially social media.
“I advise media houses to ensure that they explain to their followers that their results are unofficial until MEC make a determination on them,” he said.
Kachale underlined that MEC is the only body with powers to announce and declare winners.
“Those spreading unofficial results have the capacity to shape public perception. I ask for caution,” he said, adding that Malawians should also be on watch against proliferation of fake news.
Kachale,a judge of the High Court of Malawi, pointed out that unofficial results have been broadcast on radio and also circulating on social media.
“While the unofficial results have a potential of shaping the public perception on expected outcome of the election, the Commission wishes to affirm its position that it is the only body that has the legal mandate to announce and declare a winner in an election.
“Therefore, those that are spreading unofficial results, especially media houses, should always not forget to put a disclaimer that what they are sharing are unofficial results and thatthe final results will be declared by the Commission.”
He said when determining the results the Commission does not just look at the figures, but is also considers complaints and issues that have been brought alongside that particular result.
The Commission is reminding all stakeholders to be on the look out for fake news and false information.
“With social media it is possible for anyone to come up with their own results and distribute them. All stakeholders taking an action basing on unofficial results should be extremely cautious,” he said.
Kachale said a candidate wins an election when all votes are tallied and not that in a particular district or region or constituency.
“Therefore, all stakeholders are advised to keep their eyes on the national tally that will be released by the Commission,” he said.
Kachale said the Returning Officers, who are mostly District Commissioners, will bring the results physically to the National Tally Centre.
He also stressed that MEC is not transmitting results through any electronic system or network. Therefore, no one should wake up and raise allegations of hacking or infiltration of the results.Follow and Subscribe Nyasa TV :