A verification exercise political parties represented in Parliament conducted to ascertain whether voter registration equipment that Malawi Electoral Commission’s (MEC) lost was tampered with, has found no evidence of foul play.
A statement issued yesterday by the parties, under the banner of the Centre for Multiparty Democracy (CMD) states that their assessment did not find any trace of foul play.
But University of Malawi’s Chancellor College-based political analyst Ernest Thindwa has warned MEC to tread carefully to ensure that all stakeholders in the electoral process are fully satisfied with its electoral management.
MEC last year lost two pieces of biometric voter registration kits (BVRK), number 1962 which was found on a coal train in Mozambique with one part missing, and number 1241 which was stolen in Mzuzu.
According to the statement, jointly signed by general secretaries of the governing Democratic Progressive Party (DPP), main opposition Malawi Congress Party (MCP), People’s Party (PP), United Democratic Front (UDF) and Alliance for Democracy (Aford), results of an assessment conducted on December 18 2018 did not find a trace of tampering on both the machines and the data already captured by MEC.
The parties, during their meetings under CMD held on December 15 2018 in Lilongwe, resolved to assemble a team of information technology (IT) experts to check the integrity of the data, identify whether the storage devices were changed and establish system vulnerability if any.
The meeting followed a heated National Elections Consultative Forum (Necof) meeting during which some stakeholders called for the suspension of MEC chairperson Jane Ansah, who is also Supreme Court judge.
Among other things, the parties concluded with an appeal for the public to trust the verification process and urged political parties to avoid making careless statements while MEC was asked to report similar incidents as they happen.
MEC chief elections officer Sam Alfandika in a telephone interview yesterday hailed the parties for undertaking the process which he said would help boost stakeholders’ confidence in the electoral process.
He said: “As MEC we have been vindicated that there was nothing sinister in all these incidents and that this will help clear misconceptions and give back people’s trust in the electoral process.”
After news broke of the theft of the equipment, some political parties mainly those not represented in Parliament, called for the suspension of Ansah and members of her senior management team.
Ansah, however, stood her ground, forcing some stakeholders to ask the Public Affairs Committee (PAC) to lead the verification process before the CMD took over the initiative leading to yesterday’s findings.
But Thindwa said MEC has a huge task to regain people’s confidence in the wake of a number of negative incidents that have soiled the electoral process. This week MEC was embroiled in yet another controversy as about 751 voter registration cards belonging to people from a centre in Lilongwe Msinja North Constituency were found abandoned at a verification centre in Mangochi.