Malawi Electoral Commission (MEC) says it is investigating reports that about 750 voter registration certificates issued at a centre in Lilongwe were allegedly found abandoned in Mangochi.
The development follows the unresolved theft in September 2018 of one of MEC’s biometric voter registration kits (BVRK) which was found on a coal train in Mozambique.
When we inquired from MEC yesterday morning of the stray voter certificates, whose picture was circulating on social media, the electoral body issued a press statement in which it said it is investigating the issue.
The statement, dated January 3 2019 signed by chief elections officer Sam Alfandika, reads in part: “MEC has seen pictures of abandoned voter registration certificates circulating on social media. The preliminary information indicates that the certificates are for Mlare School in Lilongwe Msinja North Constituency but were found abandoned at Thema 1 School in Mangochi at the end of voter verification exercise.
“The commission has dispatched a team to investigate the matter on the ground in Mangochi to establish the origin of these voter certificates. The commission is also checking internally to establish what transpired. MEC is also questioning all temporary and permanent staff that worked in the two centres during voter registration and verification, respectively.”
MEC has since assured that its registration records and duplicate certificates at the source of issuance were not tampered with.
But Malawi Electoral Support Network (Mesn) chairperson Steven Duwa in an interview yesterday urged MEC to tread carefully in handling the emerging issues.
He said: “It will be a big mistake if MEC thinks the issue of lost but found BVRK has died a natural death. The public has the right to know the truth on the matter.
“Developments which have potential to raise questions about MEC’s ability to deliver a free, fair and credible elections need to be handled with utmost care realising that elections belongs to the people and not an institution.”
On his part, Malawi Congress Party (MCP) publicity secretary the Reverend Maurice Munthali called on MEC to demonstrate seriousness by coming up with evidence-based strategies that would instill confidence in electoral stakeholders.
Governing Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) spokesperson Nicholas Dausi in a separate interview expressed worry at the development.
“It is very disappointing to hear such news. As a party we will wait for investigations to be conducted before we make a formal statement,” he said.
UTM director of publicity Joseph Chidanti Malunga described the development as “very scary” and unfortunate, saying such mishaps erode people’s trust in the electoral body and the whole process.
“Now we need to rise as parties regardless of our affiliation to confront MEC so that we save our country and our elections,” he said.
People’s Party (PP) publicist Ackson Kalaile Banda accused MEC of opening up room for rigging. n