The Electoral Commission (EC) has released the final projected budget for the 2014 tripartite elections which has been pegged at K18 billion (about $45m).
However, one of the commissioners, the Reverend Emmanuel Chimkwita Phiri, has said that with the current floated local currency, the figure is likely to change and the commission might come up with a supplementary budget before the date of the elections.
Chimkwita Phiri revealed the K18 billion final budget in an interview on the sidelines of a civil society consultative meeting on the state of preparations for the 2014 tripartite elections.
Initially, the budget for the 2014 elections was set at K14.2 billion (about $35.5m) before being revised downwards to K12 billion (about $30m). The K18 billion is more than triple the budget for the elections in 2009 when government approved a K5.3 billion (about $13.2m) budget.
The 2009 elections did not include Local Government Elections which will be administered in 2014 together with Presidential and Parliamentary Elections.
Chimkwita Phiri explained that the budget has also risen because of the current ever-changing rate of the local currency and also the introduction of new polling centres, especially in areas where the population has increased.
During the meeting, both the Malawi Electoral Support Network (Mesn) publicity secretary Steve Duwa and governance and social commentator Henry Chingaipe expressed concerns over the current pace of the preparations for the elections.
Said Duwa: “With only 14 months to go it seems little is being seen on the ground in preparation for these elections by elections stakeholders, including civil society organisations.”
Among several areas of concern include the absence of the electoral calendar, approval of the election budget, and the delays in harmonising the electoral laws which would provide a legal framework for the tripartite elections.
Chingaipe said although EC has completed some of the preparations aspects of the elections, the whole process was going at a slow pace.
He suggested that one of the areas that has to be looked at to avoid future preparation delays is to come up with a fixed calendar and that it should be the calendar that should drive the funding and not the other way round.
Chingaipe also expressed concern that the harmonisation of the laws has not received the priority that it deserves.
However, Chimkwita Phiri was optimistic that the preparations, although being faced with challenges, were still on course.