Information and Communications Technology Association of Malawi (Ictam) has tipped off the Malawi Electoral Commission (MEC) to facilitate an independent audit of the recovered equipment used in voter registration to ascertain if it was not tampered with.
Ictam’s proposal comes against a background of growing pressure for the electoral body to bring independent experts to guarantee the safety of voter registration data for the ongoing exercise ahead of the May 21 2019 Tripartite Elections after a biometric registration kit (BRK) was recovered in Mozambique and other accessories, including a laptop computer were reported stolen in Mzuzu.
In an interview yesterday, Ictam president Wisely Phiri said it was not complicated to undertake an audit trail of data on the machine that was compromised.
He said: “The question that comes is how the data was captured on the equipment. One way is to have a central server that sychronises the data once it is captured. In that regard, it is not difficult to track the data.
“But if it was a stand-alone machine which keeps the data until it is transferred to a remote server, it can also be tracked down even if some pieces of equipment are missing.
“It all depends on the willingness of the custodians of the equipment to allow the process to take place.”
Revelations of the missing registration equipment accessories have drawn criticism of MEC, with the Public Affairs Committee (PAC) and Catholic Commission for Justice and Peace (CCJP) yesterday accusing the electoral body of failing to explain circumstances leading to the missing equipment and implications.
PAC publicity secretary the Reverend Father Peter Mulomole accused MEC of handling the matter lightly.
He said Malawians deserved concrete explanations on what happened because the machine was just in transit to Mwanza.
Said Mulomole: “The fact that the machine was transported using a truck that belongs to the OPC [Office of the President and Cabinet] raises alarm. MEC should have explained that urgently after the loss because people already are very skeptical about whether elections will be free and fair next year.”
In a separate interview, CCJP national coordinator Boniface Chibwana blamed MEC for not being proactive to report about the missing equipment to police and electoral stakeholders ,considering that electoral issues are emotive.
He said urged MEC to involve electoral stakeholders in investigating the matter to get to a logical conclusion and allay vote rigging fears.
While some stakeholders, including civil society organisations have demanded the resignation of MEC chairperson Jane Ansah, University of Malawi Chancellor College-based political analyst Mustafa Hussein argued against the accusations and resignation calls. He said the calls were premature.