Malawi Congress Party (MCP) president Lazarus Chakwera yesterday met Malawi Electoral Commission (MEC) chairperson Jane Ansah in Blantyre to discuss concerns over the first phase of the voter registration exercise.
Chakwera, who is also leader of opposition in Parliament, arrived at MEC’s Msonkho House at exactly 13:57 hours for a closed-door meeting that lasted about 2 hours 30 minutes.
He was accompanied by MCP secretary general Eisenhower Mkaka and lawyer Titus Mvalo.
Chakwera did not grant the press an interview, with Mkaka simply saying he could not do so as journalists were not invited to the meeting.
Speaking in an interview later, Ansah confirmed that the meeting discussed concerns MCP raised with the commission over the first phase of the voter registration which started on June 29 and ended on Monday. But she declined to shed more details on what was discussed behind closed doors.
Asked what MEC would do about the concerns, Ansah said there is need for consultation.
She said: “We cannot make any decisions at the moment as decisions are made upon consultations with various stakeholders and roundtable discussions between MEC commissioners.”
Ansah, who said MEC did not invite Chakwera to come in person to register his complaints to the commission, said there will be a national consultative meeting next Tuesday to discuss the complaints.
She said: “As MEC chair, I do not make decisions. Resolutions and decisions are made by the whole commission by a consensus. So, I have heard them and I will take it to the commission and not only the commission because it works with different stakeholders. We are having a national consultative forum meeting on the 17th and we will discuss and then the commission will meet and map the way forward.”
The first phase of the voter registration exercise was conducted in Dedza, Kasungu and Salima, some of the districts regarded as MCP strongholds.
MCP spokesperson Reverend Maurice Munthali said last week that MEC had failed to handle the exercise as it was marked by persistent breakdown of registration equipment, lack or late delivery of fuel for generators, weak solar panels and inadequate registration materials, among others.
He also said there was confusion over eligible voters because of overlap of the registration process with other programmes such as the Farm Input Subsidy Programme (Fisp) and the pending Population and Housing Census.
But Ansah yesterday said the commission had put in place right channels for mass sensitisation and that sensitisation messages are still being broadcast through several mediums.
Malawi Electoral Support Network chairperson Steve Duwa also acknowledged the low turn-out in centres under the first phase of the registration exercise.
He attributed the situation to lack of civic education and funding delays to accredited civil society organisations. n