Malawi is expected to hold tripartite elections in 2014. This will be the first time local government elections are held at the same time with parliamentary and presidential polls. News Analyst ANTHONY KASUNDA wanted to find out from the Electoral Commission (EC) how ready it if for the huge task. He speaks with director of media and public relations, Sangwani Mwafulirwa.
What is the state of the voters roll at the moment?
EC has been cleaning the votersâ€™ roll since 2009. This has involved cross-checking the electronic register against the registration forms. At the moment, this exercise has been finalised and the votersâ€™ roll is up to date if we were to compare the physical records against the electronic register.
Has the EC started preparations for the 2014 tripartite elections?
Elections are a cycle. Preparations for an election start soon after the end of preceding elections. There are activities that EC is implementing in preparation for the 2014 tripartite elections which do not require the law to change like cleaning up of the votersâ€™ register and capacity building. Capacity building has involved training of civil society and EC staff in conducting civic and voter education, training of EC commissioners and staff in elections management and training of Multiparty Liaison Committees in conflict management.
Is one year, that is now to May 4, 2014, enough time for EC to clean of the shortfalls in the voters roll?
In the run-up to the election, the commission will only be doing an update of the register as the majority of voters are already on the register. For 2014, EC will only be capturing those who have attained voting age between 2009 and 2014.
In presidential elections, only foreigners who have been in the country for more than seven years are allowed to vote while the law is silent on councilors. How are you going to reconcile the two to avoid confusing people?
EC has one votersâ€™ register which will be used during the tripartite elections. That will call for the amendment of the registration provisions to allow for the same criterion for registration in the tripartite elections.
How do you think any further delays in coming up with an amendment of the parliamentary and presidential elections law to accommodate local government elections will affect ECâ€™s preparations?
The commission would have loved if the laws were amended as soon as possible. However, as it stands at the moment, there is still enough time for the commission to prepare for the tripartite elections as preparatory activities do not require the legislation to change. The activities that will involve the law to be changed like registration come later in the electoral calendar.
How many wards do we have in the country? Will there be need to redemarcate the wards before elections?
At the moment, there are 444 wards; North 79, Centre 168 and South 197. These were redemarcated during preparation for 2000 Local Government Elections. Before that there were 861 wards; 166 in the North, 343 in the Centre and 352 in the South. During the 2014 elections, we will use the same 444 wards. However, changes may arise if there will be re-alignment in constituencies which will significantly affect population and
other factors that are considered when redemarcating wards.