Pollster Malawi Electoral Commission (MEC) says it has received “numerous disturbing reports” on how some of its polling staff for the next week’s general elections were arrived at, saying it is contrary to the “guidelines” that were “provided.”
MEC said on Tuesday that it had directed that only teachers at schools it would institute as polling centers would be recruitment for posts of Presiding Officers (POs), Assistant Presiding Officers (APOs) and Polling Clerks (PCs).
In a “very urgent” letter signed by Chief Elections Officer, Sam Alfandika, dated May 12, 2019, and addressed to District Elections Coordinators, MEC says some “staff lists were arrived at contrary” to the given guidelines.
The letter comes a day after some teachers in Chikhwawa marched to the District Commissioner’s (DC) officer in protest to how the recruitment drive for the polling staff in the district was done.
The teachers claimed that most of the polling staff were not teachers but spouses and relations of the recruiters, and thus they would be enjoying their benefits.
In the letter, which is copied to all District Education Managers (DEMs), Alfandika says MEC had directed that only teachers should be involved.
“All Presiding Officers (POs) should be Head-teachers of those Primary Schools that are Polling stations. Assistant Presiding Officers (APOs) should be Deputy Head-teachers of those schools.
“If there are more streams calling for more than one APO, the rest of the APOs should be identified from among the teachers within the same school in order of seniority.
The rest of the polling staff should also be from the same school. If and only if the number required is more than the number of teachers at that school, the shortfall should be met from the nearest school or government establishment,” reads the letter in part.
It adds: “Where a polling station falls within a public institution, the Officer-in- Charge of the said station should be the PO and the second in command APO. Here too the polling clerks should be drawn from the same station or nearest public school or institution if there is a shortfall.
“You are, therefore, called upon to correct all situations where instructions were not followed in the recruitment drive. MEC already communicated to stakeholders about this recruitment process and any departure from this will have serious perceptions and connotations.
“MEC would like to hold credible elections and this departure is a serious threat to this commitment. It will therefore not be condoned.
“Please note that the MEC will not recognize or pay honoraria all non-teachers who have been wrongly recruited as polling staff in place of deserving teachers.”Follow and Subscribe Nyasa TV :