Malawi Electoral Commission (MEC) chairperson Chifundo Kachale has said the commission is ready to hold the court-sanctioned fresh presidential election today, having delivered voting materials to all constituencies.
But in his address to journalists last evening at the National Tally Centre at College of Medicine Sports Complex in Blantyre, the MEC chairperson expressed concern that government was yet to release the K10 billion balance in the election budget.
Treasury has so far given MEC K19 billion out of the K29 billion Parliament allocated for the exercise during the Mid-Year Budget Review in February.
Kachale said it was disturbing that government was failing to honour its commitment to release the funding to the electoral body.
He said: “Why is the money being withheld from us? That money must be paid in one way or the other. It is not a figure that came out of thin air. As we have constantly said, this is a public event and we have no doubt that we are going to get that money.”
On Friday, government disbursed K10 billion to MEC after a heated meeting at Parliament Building on Thursday.
Kachale, a judge of the High Court of Malawi, said the funds released on Friday have already been used in ongoing processes.
Efforts to speak to Minister of Finance, Economic Planning and Development Joseph Mwanamvekha on the status of the balance proved futile as his known mobile number could not be reached last evening.
On the delivery of materials, Kachale said as of yesterday, they had finished all the processes, except the delivery of materials and personnel to 72 polling stations in the Central Region. He, however, said they would be deployed by yesterday evening.
He said some presiding officers in parts of Lilongwe Rural yesterday turned down the job at the last minute, but have since been replaced by others who were on stand-by.
Kachale also pointed out that some vehicles without Fresh Presidential Election (FPE) registration number plates which created suspicion among people.
He said: “There was a problem with a machine at PVHES [Plant, Vehicle Hire and Engineering Services] used in the plates. However, a private contractor has been hired to do the number plates.”
Kachale has also appealed against pressuring MEC to release results, saying the commission has eight days to announce.
He also said in line with coronavirus preventive measures, voters will be required to wash hands at polling stations. They are also free to use own pens.
Kachale also assured voters of security in all polling stations.