The Malawi Electoral Commission (MEC) says it has not set new dates for voter registration in Karonga district saying it is considering the requests from the district and others district in the northern region.
MEC says it is currently reviewing the schedule of phases to come up with new dates for conducting registration in Chitipa, Rumphi, Nkhata Bay, Mzimba, Likoma and Karonga.
“When new dates are identified, the Commission will communicate to all electoral stakeholders and the general public through the media and direct communication,” MEC Chief Elections Officer Willie Kalonga said in a statement on Wednesday.
MEC’s clarification comes contrary to media reports that the Commission had bowed down to some pressure from people in Karonga to change the registration period for the district to September end this year from the slated starting date of December 5.
But Karonga district MEC Clerk Hastings Manda on Tuesday confirmed to the media that the electoral body had rescinded its decision and shifted the registration dates.
“We thought clinging to the date was like denying them their right to vote that is why we have shifted it to be in a fifth phase and as you are aware that that on Thursday 12 September we are starting the fourth phase which means just after these two weeks the next phase will be here,” Manda claimed.
Karonga residents asked MEC to shift the dates backwards saying the December 5date coincided with the rainy season which would pose travel problems to registration centres to those living in remote areas.
“The Commission received requests from Chitipa, Rumphi, Nkhata Bay, Mzimba, Likoma and Karonga to conduct registration earlier than initially scheduled because some areas are hard-to-reach during the rainy season.
“The Commission has considered these requests and is currently reviewing the schedule of phases to come up with new dates for conducting registration in these districts,” Kalonga said.
He said the Commission intends to deploy an additional 150 teams to start registering voters from Chitipa coming southwards when registration eventually starts.
“The Commission wishes to reiterate that it is geared to deliver a credible election in 2014 and this will be achieved with the collaborative efforts of all stakeholders,” the MEC boss said.
Meanwhile, MEC has announced that so far the total for registered voters for the three past phases is 1,986,500.
“The registration for fourth phase will cover Zomba, Machinga and Balaka districts, Zomba City and also Phalombe North and Phalombe Central constituencies and will run from September 11 to 24, 2013,” MEC said.–MEC StringerFollow and Subscribe Nyasa TV :