Malawi Electoral Commission (MEC) has said the constituency returning officer (CRO) in Nsanje Central who was arrested after some people claimed he was taking part in electoral fraud was released after being found without fault.
When asked in an interview yesterday about the status of the man, Fred Thomas, MEC director of media and public relations Sangwani Mwafulirwa said he was set free the next day after it was discovered that he had done no wrong.
He said in a written response: “He was released the following day. It was discovered that there was no wrong doing on his part. The CRO simply went to have lunch before handing over the documents to the District Commissioner [DC] and some got suspicious because he had the results.
“In the presence of the DC, police and political party representatives the forms were determined and were found not have been tampered with.”
According to Mwafulirwa, MEC dispatched its director of legal affairs to the district to investigate the matter that made headlines.
In a telephone interview yesterday, Nsanje DC Michael Chimbalanga admitted being part of the team that witnessed the process of testing the results sheets that were in the possession of the CRO.
He said: “When the delegation from MEC came they called for stakeholders such as party monitors and compared the copies that the CRO was entrusted with against, copies that were left at the constituency tally centre and those that had been sent electronically to MEC. After all these tallied, it was concluded that no foul play was done.”
Nsanje Police confirmed that a parliamentary candidate for Malawi Congress Party (MCP) Kafa Mandevana reported that the CRO was found with presidential, parliamentary and local government elections results sheets.
Besides the Nsanje incident, MEC officials have also clarified that a driver arrested in Zomba for carrying electoral materials without police escort, was also released from custody as he was not to blame.
The police last week announced that they had arrested 18 more people in various districts following sporadic cases of illegal demonstrations that ensued after the announcement of results of the May 21 Tripartite Elections.
With the additional arrests for various charges such as theft and malicious damage emanating from violence associated with the elections, the number rose to 52.
In an earlier interview, national police spokesperson James Kadadzera said the suspects had been rounded up in Mulanje, Thyolo, Lilongwe, Dowa, Kasungu, Salima and Mzuzu.