Malawi Electoral Commission (MEC) chairperson Chifundo Kachale has disclosed that the June 23 Fresh Presidential Election budget was reduced from K34 billion to K27.8 billion after effecting cost-cutting measures.
Kachale, a judge of the High Court, told National Elections Consultative Forum (Necof) in Lilongwe on Friday that his commission has reviewed the entire electoral process and was conducting an external review of the fresh presidential election.
He said the commission will set a date to hold a consultative engagement with all stakeholders to share areas they have identified as requiring reform.
Kachale said the commission deployed the cost-cutting measures after it faced inadequate funding for the implementation of the election.
The measures included reducing days of inspection of the register from five days to two and reducing size of the ballot papers from A4 to A5, which reduced printing cost by 50 percent.
MEC spokesperson Sangwani Mwafulirwa in an interview yesterday said the commission has managed to pay all its service providers in the fresh presidential election.
The MEC chairperson, in his address to Necof where political parties, development partners and security agencies, among others, were represented, said challenges his commission faced in the fresh poll included uncertainty on the date of election, political will and funding challenges.
“Funding for the elections was erratic and not in line with the cash flow projections. It took the intervention of Parliament through a meeting with the Electoral Commission, the Office of the President and Cabinet, the Treasury and the Reserve Bank of Malawi with less than one week before the polling day.
“A resolution was made at that meeting that funds should be released immediately and directly to the Electoral Commission operations account to enable it effectively conduct the polling process,” Kachale said.
He said Covid-19 pandemic was also a challenge as the nation, in the second month of the process, recorded its first case of coronavirus, and this had posed a threat as elections entail large crowds while at the same time preventive measures for the spread of the pandemic required social distance.
The MEC chairperson announced that the commission has planned to hold by-elections on November 10 2020 to fill five parliamentary seats and one ward that are vacant.