While dust is settling on demand by electoral stakeholders for the Malawi Electoral Commission (MEC) to engage independent investigators to assess components of a biometric voter registration kit that went missing in Mwanza and Mzuzu, MEC says it has sent a team of fact finding mission to Mangochi after 750 voter certificates meant for Lilongwe Msinja were found in Mangochi west.
The voter certificates were found in an envelope at a primary school in Mangochi west where a verification exercise for voters had just completed on Sunday.
People who spoke to Nyasa Times at the school said a cleaner found the certificates in a class room where the voter registration was taking place.
After the cleaner handed over the envelope, they found the certificates which a serial number 134252 with names of Mlale, Bunda and constituency Lilongwe Msinja.
This has raised concern as some quarters of society think this was part f a rigging system by the ruling Democratic Progressive Party (DPP).
While admitting to have received the report, MEC spokesperson Sangwani Mwafulirwa said his institution is still carrying their investigations on the matter.
He said the commission has seen pictures of abandoned voter registration certificates circulating on social media.
“The preliminary information indicates that the certificates are for Mlare School in Lilongwe Msinja North Constituency but were found abandoned at Thema 1 School in Mangochi at the end of voter verification exercise,” Mwafulirwa said in a statement.
He said the Commission has dispatched a team to investigate the matter on the ground in Mangochi to establish the origin of the voter certificates.
“The Commission is also checking internally to establish what transpired. The Commission is also questioning all temporary and permanent staff that worked in the two centres during voter registration and verification respectively,” MEC spokesman said in a statement made available to Nyasa Times.
He said MEC has checked the voter registration records of Mlare School and the duplicate certificates for all the registrants are intact in the books whose total summary was signed off by monitors of political parties that were present during the voter registration process as attached.
“Stakeholders are assured of due diligence and commitment of the Commission to resolve this issue in collaboration with all relevant authorities and preserve the integrity of the electoral process. MEC will be updating the nation when the investigations are completed,” the statement said.
Mangochi district Nation Initiative for Civic Education (NICE) Trust Tena Banda said he received the report on the matter.
Main opposition Malawi Congress Party spokesperson Rev. Maurice Munthali wondered if the 2019 polls will credible especially with what is happening with MEC.
“Last year the voters registration kit were found dumped in a Mozambican train, the missing of MEC computers in Mzuzu and today we are hearing this report. This tells us that MEC is failing to conduct its duties and that the polls will not be free and fair,” lamented Munthali.
During a highly-charged National Elections Consultative Forum (Necof) meeting in Lilongwe last year Novemebr, MEC officials were taken to task to explain circumstance that led to the missing of the gadget found on a train in Mozambique and a laptop computer as well as other accessories reported missing in Mzuzu.
Explanations by MEC chairperson Jane Ansah, a Malawi Supreme Court of Appeal judge, that the missing of equipment has no effect on the registration process and that there is no data lost apparently fell on deaf ears.
MEC spokesman said that Malawians should still have confidence in MEC that it will conduct a free, fair and credible election on May 21.
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