MEC hails Mzimba exercise but figures show otherwise

The Malawi Electoral Commission (MEC) has described the recent registration and verification exercise in the two constituencies in the northern district of Mzimba For the October 9 by-elections as a success and attributed this to the entry of 7,455 new voters.

The electoral body was from August 12 to 17 registering voters ahead of the by-elections in Mzimba Central and Mzimba South West constituencies.

The Commission said  the sum of registered voters for the two constituencies is now 75,355 up by 10.98 percent from 67,900. Mzimba Central has 32 registration Centres while Mzimba Southwest has 30.

Registration of voters in Mzimba

But the Commission does not give figures of people who came to verify their names in both constituencies.

However, parallel figures Nyasa Times obtained reveal that only 751 people verified their names in Mzimba South West out of 31,000 and less than 1000 in Mzimba Central out of 37,146.

MEC spokesperson Sangwani Mwafulirwa said the exercise went on “smoothly “.

“Turnout was satisfactory and the Commission did not find any valid reason warranting an extension as everything went on according to schedule,” Mwafulirwa said in a statement released on Tuesday.

In most Centres , MEC staff registered zero attendance from day one when the exercise started up to the end.

“It is worrisome though that not many people come to verify their names. Let’s hope the situation will be different when it comes to actual voting. Otherwise we will experience the worst voter apathy,” said a member of a Civil Society Organization which is on the ground monitoring the whole process.

Mwafulirwa said that the ‘good turnout’ of first-time registrants was due to a good civic education and mass mobilization strategy.

“We sent teams to the constituencies with loudhailers and with letters to all churches and traditional leaders. The Commission also appreciates other stakeholders that worked with it in reaching out to the people urging them to go and register or verify their registration details,” Mwafulirwa said.

He did not mention the other stakeholders but Nyasa Times has gathered that MEC has neither accredited nor funded any NGO in the Mzimba Elections despite calling for budgets.

Meanwhile, MEC is also reminding all political parties and individuals wishing to contest as candidates in the by-elections that collection of nomination forms began on 1st August, 2012 and will close on 31st August, 2012.

“Forms can be collected from the Constituency Returning Officers at Edingeni TDC for Mzimba Southwest and Kapiri TDC for Mzimba Central. The forms are also available at the District Commissioner’s office at Mzimba Boma.

“The Commission will receive the Nomination Forms on 31st August together with a nomination Fee of K100,000 cash at the respective constituency returning offices,” Mwafulirwa said.

The official campaign will start on September 6, 2012 and end at 06.00AM on October 7, 2012 with polling falling on October 9, 2012, he said.

Mzimba Central Constituency fell vacant following the death of Professor Donton Mkandawire whereas Mzimba South West fell vacant following the appointment of Khumbo Kachali as country’s Vice-President.

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