The Public Affairs Committee (PAC) has lost its mandate to lead a probe into the stolen Biometric Voter Registration Kit (BVRK) to Centre for Multiparty Democracy (CMD).
At a meeting in Blantyrelast month, political parties represented in Parliament asked PAC to takecharge of the audit process of the Malawi Electoral Commission (MEC) BVRKcomponents which were stolen during the voter registration period, which PACaccepted.
Various stakeholders, including the Malawi Law Commission (MLS), called for an independent investigation of the stolen equipment to restore people’s trust in MEC and the electoral process towards the May 21 2019 Tripartite Elections.
But a meeting by leaders of some parties under the CMD last week stripped PAC of its mandate, replacing it with political party representatives.
CMD executive director Kizito Tenthani said in an interview yesterday the parties agreed to handle the matter on their own.
He said: “Indeed, the meeting took place. As you are aware that there was an impasse at the MEC National Elections Consultative Forum [Necof] so parties represented in Parliament met to agree on a roadmap that would solve the matter as opposed to escalating it.
“Therefore, parties agreed, among others, to engage Information and Communications Technology [ICT] experts to check the status of the equipment. The parties thought this would restore confidence in the electoral process..”
But PAC publicity secretary Father Peter Mulomole said PAC was yet to be told of the decision.
“As PAC, we have not been officially communicated of this decision. But nevertheless, if that is true it is good news because the parties are major stakeholders in the electoral process. As such they need to be in control of the process,” he said.
Members of the CMD include the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP), Malawi Congress Party(MCP), People’s Party (PP), United Democratic Front (UDF) and the Alliance for Democracy (Aford).
Speaking in a telephone interview, DPP member Khwauli Msiska, who attended the CMD meeting, said the parties agreed to take up the matter because they are major players in the matter.
“All political parties that attended that meeting agreed that it was crucial to undertake a process that would clear the air on the matter. We agreed that each party should identify an ICT expert and a party official to oversee the process. At the end, the team should make a statement on what they find. That way, we will allay public fears,” he said.
PP secretary general Ibrahim Matola said he was not aware of the agreements made at the meeting when asked in a telephone interview.
After the closed door meeting last month, PAC chairperson the Reverend Felix Chingota said the body had accepted the responsibility to carry out the exercise, but conceded that PAC did not have the technical capacity to carry out the task and, therefore, needed support from other players.