Opposition parties who met in Blantyre to find a common ground following the response from the Malawi Electoral Commission (MEC) on the stolen Biometric Voter Registration Kit (BVRK) have called for MEC chair Justice Jane Ansah, chief elections officer Sam Alfandika and other senior officials at the commission to step aside to allow for independent forensic audit of all electoral equipment under the commission.
Representatives of nine opposition parties told a news conference in Blantyre on Tuesday that after their meeting in camera they have agreed to ask for Ansah and her officials to step aside
The meeting drew People’s Party (PP) secretary general Ibrahim Matola, Assembly for Democracy and Development (ADD) president Cassim Chilumpha, People’s Progressive Movement (PPM) leader Mark Katsonga Phiri, as well as delegates from the United Transformation Movement (UTM), Malawi Forum for Unity and Development (Mafunde), People’s Transformation Party (Petra), Alliance for Democracy (Aford), the Republican Party (RP) and the New Labour Party (NLP).
The parties are seeking technical and material support from the UN through UNDP Malawi office, the European Union (EU) and DFID for the independent forensic audit to be carried out by eminent Malawians led by a retired Supreme Court judge.
MEC has been under fire from various electoral stakeholders, some of whom have called for the resignation of MEC chairperson while others have recommended an independent forensic audit of data captured by MEC.
Malawi Law Society (MLS) has also thrown its weight behind an independent investigation on the matter.
During the National Elections Consultative Forum (Necof) meeting, parties refused to buy the explanation of MEC chairperson Ansah who claimed that data, which the commission captured, was not compromised and that the situation was under control after revelations that the BVRK number 1962, which was stolen in September, was later found on a coal train in Mozambique.
MEC in an earlier statement said the equipment was lost in transit from Mzuzu to Mwanza but was found on the train belonging to Vale Logistics.
At the Necof meeting, electoral stakeholders rejected MEC’s attempts to use Information Communication Technology (ICT) experts from the National Registration Bureau (NRB) and Malawi Communications Regulatory Authority (Macra) in investigating the matter.
Ansah said the equipment that was found in Mozambique was National Registration Bureau property, contradicting an earlier statement signed by MEC chairperson for electoral services committee Jean Mathanga which confirmed MEC’s ownership of the equipment.
Meanwhile, the opposition bloc also demand that government ensures that all political parties that have applied for registration under the Political Parties Act are registered immediately before November 26 2018.
The parties have asked the Public Affairs Committee (PAC) with support from UNDP, EU, DFID and others to convene a stakeholders meeting not later than November 26 2018.