As Malawians have entered the second phase of voter registration exercise, Malawi Congress Party (MCP) has claimed to have detected flaws in the Malawi Electoral Commission (MEC) and National Registration Bureau (NRB) databases.
Information technology (IT) expert Daud Suleman made the claim on Wednesday, prompting MCP to allege that MEC is planning to rig the forthcoming fresh presidential election by, among other things, producing a compromised voter register.
Suleman made a presentation as part of a report the party’s IT team was tasked to compile following its investigations into reports that some minors were being registered for national identity cards.
According to the data the IT expert beamed on a television monitor, children aged below 16 years have been given NRB identity card numbers. This move, according to the party, raises suspicions in the face of reports that MEC has been registering under-aged children in the Southern Region.
Suleman, who was one of a witnesses for the second petitioner and MCP president Lazarus Chakwera in the May 21 2019 elections case, said the database shows 4 367 voters who neither had NRB ID cards nor receipts, but are appearing in MEC’s voters roll.
He further alleged that 37 890 voters have no NRB ID numbers in the MEC voter register and that 3.7 million are registered in NRB database but they have no ID numbers.
The database system he beamed also showed that some of the 3.7 million registered in MEC database were born after July 2002, further indicating that the youngest person registered in the MEC voters’ registers was born in 2029 (meaning the person is still not born).
The presentation showed that there are multiple registrants using one NRB identity card in the MEC system, with some alterations of bio-data which indicated that some male registrants captured in NRB data were captured as female registrants in the MEC database.
According to Suleman, over 40 registrants in the system were born in 1800, which according to party officials, is a deliberate ploy to rig the May 21 elections.
Asked to comment on how he obtained the data he was interrogating, Suleman said he was using the same data which was given to him by MEC officials.
In his opening statement at a press briefing at MCP headquarters in Lilongwe, Chakwera said MCP will not allow anomalies but will ensure that the fresh poll is credible, fair and transparent.
He said: “As a nation, we are fighting two fierce battles at the same time. The first is our battle to have a competent and credible election. The second is our battle to stop the spread of coronavirus and survive the economic and social hardships it brings.
“As far as the fresh election is concerned, to have a credible election means being able to vote and having confidence that your vote is protected. I want you to know that your votes as Malawians are not safe, because the Malawi Electoral Commission is not doing enough to protect your votes.”
As MEC resumed its process of registering new voters to be added to the voters’ roll, the MCP leaders who signed an electoral alliance with UTM Party of Vice President Saulos Chilima, said the party has evidence that MEC’s voters’ roll itself is compromised.
However, Chakwera said the party is yet to write MEC officially on the alleged registration irregularities, including registering minors and buying identity cards, adding that party officials will be engaging MEC on the matter to ensure data is cleaned up, or else the party will seek legal recourse.
MEC spokesperson Sangwani Mwafulirwa could not be drawn to take questions on the matter. He said the commission will respond to the allegations in due course.
Said Mwafulirwa: “There will be a response on the issues raised and the allegations made at an appropriate time.”
NRB director Mcford Somanje said he was not in a position to take questions as he claimed he was in the field sorting out more important issues regarding registration. He demanded a questionnaire which he promised to respond to today.
Some weeks ago, Human Rights Defenders Coalition (HRDC) questioned the transfer of Somanje to the NRB, as they alleged that he was transferred to the bureau to manipulate the database.