Minister of Information, Tourism and Civic Education Kondwani Nankhumwa says no National Intelligence Service (NIS) officer was present at Malawi Electoral Commission (MEC) warehouse when it caught fire two weeks ago.
Nankhumwa’s response follows a statement by MEC chairperson Maxon Mbendera that there were NIS officers in addition to the normal security officers at the warehouse.
Said Mbendera: “We have been made to understand that the National Intelligence Services [NIS] provided services although this was not agreed with us. Equally, there was no prior notification of their involvement.”
MEC’s Central Region warehouse in Lilongwe went up in flames two days before the High Court was about to rule on an injunction obtained by Lilongwe City South East member of Parliament (MP) Bentley Namasasu of Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) who was declared winner in the May 20 Tripartite Elections.
Namasasu sought the order to stop an earlier High Court decision for a recount at three centres as applied by Malawi Congress Party (MCP) candidate Ulemu Msungama.
In an interview yesterday, Nankhumwa expressed surprise at Mbendera’s remarks and wondered how NIS officers were identified.
Said Nankhumwa: “Intelligence does not say which officers are at the place and why they are there. If indeed the intelligence officers were there, how were they identified? Who told MEC about their presence?”
The minister, who is also the official government spokesperson, said NIS officers do not need to be invited at a particular place because they travel according to what their job (intelligence) tells them.
Besides ballot boxes, other materials that were destroyed in the fire included 81 gas cylinders and 168 gas lamps borrowed from the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission.
MEC spokesperson Sangwani Mwafulirwa said the lamps and cylinders will have to be replaced, but the cost has not been assessed.