Study highlights serious gaps in electoral observation

A recent study by the Institute for Policy Research & Social Empowerment (IPRSE) has highlighted serious gaps in the observation of elections in Malawi.

The Malawi Electoral Support Network (MESN) commissioned the study with financial support from the National Democratic Institute (NDI) document successes and challenges to inform improvements and innovations for future election observation exercise.

In the study, the Chancellor College-based research institute established that both local and international observers only do their work a few weeks before and after an election against their mandate of observing the entire electoral cycle.

Chingaipe–Electoral observers have abrogated their mandate–Photo by Watipaso Mzungu

Presenting the findings at Mponela in Dowa recently, IPRSE executive director Dr. Henry Chingaipe faulted the observers for abrogating their mandate, which he said is to observe the entire electoral process.

“When speak of an electoral observation, we expect that observers, particularly local observers, observed all the stages of the electoral processes according to the electoral cycle. The observation, so far, is that nearly all of them [observers] do the electoral observation before polling during the campaign period a little bit. But many of them focus on the actual polling day. That’s not enough because sometimes elections go wrong because of what happened way before the actual polling,” said Chingaipe.

While acknowledging that they have provided insights on a number of areas such as electoral disputes, the observers have failed to contribute towards improvement of the election processes through amendment of laws that govern the electoral processes.

“And you know the history of electoral reforms. We actually get the bills done, but we have not been able to go beyond parliament with those bills. So, if you are interested in indicators of the electoral observation, then perhaps we are doing badly because the other stakeholders in the legislative process have not done their bid to actually see the electoral reforms being enacted. But the election observers for the civil society perspective have done everything they could to

Providing insights on a number of areas, including electoral disputes. Where we have not seen significant results is on the side of electoral reforms

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