The Malawi Electoral Commission (MEC) is disputing media reports alleging that the electoral body will no longer hire teachers as Supervisors and Presiding Officers during elections.
The Commission says in a statement that it has not made a blanket decision to stop engaging teachers as Presiding Officers or Supervisors because they proved to be a failure.
“The truth of the matter is that the Commission has changed the approach on recruitment of supervisors and Presiding Officers in that it will now be inviting applications and conducting interviews for these positions,” says MEC’s chief elections officer Willie Kalonga.
Kalonga says the arrangement follows recommendations from stakeholders that the Commission should broaden the base for recruitment of electoral staff to include other capable officers apart from teachers.
“The stakeholders further requested that, where possible, there should be a blend of careers at each polling stream. Teachers and non-teachers should be working together and not teachers only. In the past the tradition has been that head teachers were automatic Supervisors and Presiding Officers at the schools where they are based,” he says
He says several forums have recommended that the positions should be opened up to all teachers within the school and other qualified public officers in the vicinity of the centre.
The Commission started implementing this during the Tripartite Elections whereby Constituency Returning Officers were recruited through interviews.
The practice has been extended to Presiding officers and Supervisors for the October 7, 2014 by-elections.
The Commission emphasises that it will still engage teachers who will pass interviews for Presiding Officers and Supervisors in future elections.