The Malawi Electoral Commission would like to give a response to some issues that have been raised in an article published on your online newspaper with the above caption and authored by Mr Majoti Chizumanga.
The article cites revelations by The Zimbabwe Independent that the Malawi Government has roped in shadowy Israeli security company, NIKUV Projects and the Central Intelligence Organization (CIO) of Zimbabwe to assist the Home Affairs Ministry to undertake voter registration.
The Commission wishes to clarify that in Malawi, registration of voters is done by the Commission itself. In preparation for the 2014 Tripartite Elections registration of voters already started on July 22, 2013. MEC is doing this alone and has not hired any foreign organisation or company to assist it.
The article calls for an immediate suspension of the current voter registration exercise because of the involvement of the CIO and NIKUV. The message should also be sent clear that the Commission has internal capacity and expertise to conduct voter registration and prepare the voters’ roll and at the moment we are not getting any support for the two organizations as alleged in the article. The call is therefore misplaced and uncalled for.
The article also mentions that Home Affairs officials have been in and out of Zimbabwe to receive computer training on a new voter registration system and questions why Malawians are not aware of this new system. The author also goes on to question what happened to the old system that was used in 2009 plebiscite The starting point is that there was no plebiscite in 2009. The nation had a general election where the electorate elected Members of Parliament and the State President.
Secondly, on the ongoing registration, the Commission is using an old voter registration system, Optical Mark Recognition (OMR). The Commission had planned to adopt a biometric voter registration system but this was not pursued and was communicated so to the general public.
All electoral stakeholders are aware that the Commission is using the old voter registration system. The allegations on the new system only paints a picture that the author is not in touch of what is happening on the ground as regards registration of voters for 2014 elections.
Since no outsiders are involved in the conduct of voter registration, the other issues of tendering process to identify them, how much it is costing and who is footing the bills do not arise.
The article also alleges that there is a deliberate disenfranchisement of voters in opposition strongholds while voters in PP strongholds are registering with ease. The Commission wishes to respond by saying that it is conducting registration to the best of its ability to ensure that all eligible Malawians register. All registration centres are stocked with adequate materials. So far the Commission has completed two phases which have all registered increased percentages of voters as compared to the registration that was done in 2010.
The article also mentions that there is an upsurge of fake voter registration certificates in some parts of the country. The Commission has said it several times that no one with a fake voter certificate can vote because their name will not appear in the voters’ roll. In the Mzuzu case, which is the only case reported so far, it involved old voter certificates which will no longer be useful for voting in 2014 as the Commission is issuing new voter certificates with improved features. The Mzuzu case is criminal and the Police are handling it.
The Commission also finds it unrealistic for one to demand the final voters roll to be sent to all presidential aspirants and parliamentary candidates six months before polling. The Commission in its electoral calendar, which has been shared with all electoral stakeholders, has clearly indicated that registration will end in January 2014 and then
will have voter inspection in March, 2014. When the Commission opens up for voter inspection, all stakeholders are free to inspect the voters roll. It should be explained that Nomination of candidates shall be done towards the end of January 2014 and until that time no one is known as a candidate by the Commission.
The Commission is urging all interested parties that they should always crosscheck facts with the Commission before bringing them to the public to avoid creating confusions, misleading the public and making stale demands. All stakeholders are aware of the stand taken by the Commission that it will allow electoral stakeholders to run parallel tally centre.
The Commission is geared to deliver a credible election in 2014 and this will be achieved with the collaborative efforts of all stakeholders.
To that extent the Commission has taken an initiative to share all the information as needed. Since registration started, the Commission has been releasing all statistics of registered voters at centre, ward, constituency and district levels through the media, direct communication to all parties and also posting on its website www.mec.org.mw .
- Sangwani Mwafulirwa
Director, Media and Public RelationsFollow and Subscribe Nyasa TV :