Electoral stakeholders in the country have described the turnout in the just ended first phase of the voters’ roll inspection exercise as poor and worrisome.
National Initiative for Civic Education (Nice) Trust executive director Ollen Mwalubunju said in an interview on Monday the low turnout affected the exercise which was characterised by minor problems such as wrong dates of birth and misspellings of names.
Mwalubunju said it was only at Singano Centre in Chikhwawa where there was a unique problem with 321 names missing from the voters’ roll, but the issue was brought to the attention of the Malawi Electoral Commission (MEC).
“Voters’ roll inspection is a very important exercise and people have to take it seriously. People should not take it for granted that once they have registered all is done until the polling day. It is during this period[the inspection exercise] that errors that seem minor are corrected,” said Mwalubunju.
He attributed the low turnout to MEC’s change of venues without communicating to people in good time. Mwalubunju appealed to MEC to announce changes in good time to enable stakeholders to educate people and strategise on the way forward.
Malawi Electoral Support Network (Mesn) spokesperson Deogratias M’mana said in addition to a low turnout in most centres, some names of registered voters were also missing in some centres.
However, M’mana said most of the challenges encountered were those observed before the exercise was suspended.
“The voters roll must be credible, accessible. What is needed now is that the process of coming up with the voters roll must be transparent,” said M’mana.
Institute for Policy Interaction (IPI) executive director Rafik Hajat said some problems that were faced in the voters’ roll inspection could have been easily avoided; hence, the need to solve them before the next phase of the inspection exercise.