National Elections Systems Trust (Nest) officials are up in arms with the main opposition Malawi Congress Party (MCP) that the Malawi Electoral Commission (MEC) has a ploy with the government to rig MCP votes in central region by ensuring most people do not vote.
Nest executive director Unandi Banda said his organisation raised a red flag before the registration exercise to ensure that the phases went on simultaneously in all the three regions.
“The MCP has genuine concerns. We wonder why the central region should always be the experimental region. This is a ploy to rig elections. Rigging is a process and starts from registration. Registration is a sensitive exercise,” said Banda.
The registration exercise in Kasungu, Dedza and Salima, which has been marred by low turn out for the past two weeks comes to an end today.
Banda said the pollster would have started the first phase of the registration exercise with one district in each region.
“They need to change their work plan. They should have the registration phases spread across all the regions so that when there are problems, all the regions should be affected. The cost of error should be spread in all the regions not in one region as is the case now,” he said.
But Moffat Banda, a MEC commissioner said what Unandi has said is regrettable.
“We don’t work with the government. We work independently for the benefit of political parties,” he said.
He said it is the responsibility of all political parties to engage in civic education as well.
Moffat Banda disputed that there was low turn out in the three districts, saying the turn out has been impressive.
MCP wants MEC to extends the voter registration in Dedza, Kasungu and Salima due to technical hiccups and lack of mass sensitisation.
Reverend Maurice Munthali , the MCP publicity secretary, said the opposition party is not satisfied with the manner the voter registration exercise has been conducted in the first phase.
Munthali said MEC did not do enough sensitisation for people ahead of the registration exercise.
He said the party feels MEC is not capable of handling the whole registration exercise because of persistent breakdown of registration equipment, lack or late delivery of fuel for generator sets, weak solar panels and inadequate registration materials, among other reasons.
Malawi Electoral Support Network (Mesn) chairperson Steve Duwa also acknowledged the low turnout in all centres in the three districts under the first phase of the registration.
He attributed the poor turnout to lack of civic education and funding delays to accredited civil society organisations (CSOs).
The affected districts lie in the Central Region, which is widely regarded as an MCP stronghold based on the number of legislators and ward councillors in past elections.
The Centre for Human Rights and Rehabilitation (CHRR) has also asked MEC to extend the registration process in the three districts.
MEC has been advised to treat voter registration concerns with seriousness it deserve.Follow and Subscribe Nyasa TV :