With only 17 days remaining for Malawians to the polls, MEC has said it has no worries and is confident of a credible election, claiming everything is in place.
MEC chief elections officer Sam Alfandika said this yesterday in response to an enquiry from Weekend Nation during a media briefing on the sidelines of a National Elections Consultative Forum (Necof) in Blantyre.
Said Alfandika: “We have no worries and we are confident that we are going to deliver. Everything is in place and we just need all stakeholders to act in a manner that will not undermine achievement of credible elections.”
During the Necof meeting, which MEC chairperson Justice Jane Ansah said will likely be the last before the May 21 Tripartite Elections, stakeholders present were updated on MEC’s state of preparedness.
According to MEC’s report, which was read by Ansah, the commission has trained 170 master trainers who are training presiding officers and assistant presiding officers and finalised printing ballot papers for all three elections. MEC has also trained constituency returning officers who will assist in tallying and transmission process and has also printed voters’ registers.
But Ansah said the only challenge is that pictures of some voters on the voters’ register cannot be traced in the National Registration Bureau (NRB) database.
“However, those should not despair; they will vote as long as their names are in the register,” she assured.
Besides, Ansah also said procurement of polling materials has been done and that the outstanding ones include polling kit boxes and monitors’ boxes.
Packaging of non-sensitive polling materials has also been done and on transport requirements, the commission will need 2 154 vehicles, three aircrafts and six boats to transfer polling staff and materials. She, however, said the commission anticipates a deficit of 700 station wagons and 346 trucks.
However, she said the commission met with Chief Secretary to Government Lloyd Muhara to ask for additional funding to meet transport requirements.
In separate interviews, political party representatives that included Malawi Congress Party (MCP), United Democratic
Front (UDF), People’s Party (PP) and UTM, expressed satisfaction with MEC’s progress and its state of preparedness in regard to the elections.
However, the parties pointed out some areas which they said MEC should focus on, including pronouncements of rigging claims by presidential candidates, notably DPP’s Peter Mutharikia and UTM’s Saulos Chilima, network hitches in results transmission and logistics.
On his part, MCP secretary general Eisenhower Mkaka commended MEC for being transparent, urging the pollster to maintain that.
“I think we need to understand that they [MEC] are coming from a battered image from the previous elections and they need to correct that perception or the perception that MEC is complicit in certain situations,” said Mkaka.
On his part, UDF publicity secretary Ken Ndanga, said the party’s expectation is that there will not be a repeat of some challenges, most notably on logistics, as was the case in 2014.
“We have been engaging MEC in trying to get an assurance that the transport problems will not occur again this time,” he said.
On his part, UTM monitor who witnessed the printing of ballot papers in Dubai, Henry Matemba, said the system is impressive.
In a separate interview, United Nations (UN) resident coordinator Maria Jose Torres, said they are working hand-in-hand with the Office of the President Cabinet (OPC) to ensure that the issue of logistics is sorted out soon and on their part, they are also assessing how they can help filling in such a gap.
She also commended MEC for putting in much effort to make sure that the electoral process is transparent.
“We can say that from a technical perspective they [MEC] have covered all the areas that were expected to be covered for a process that is credible and attracts the interest of Malawians who want to cast their votes and elect leaders of their choice come May 21,” said Torres.
However, Torres urged MEC to sort out the issue of network hitches as well as political parties to ensure that they arrange to place their observers on the ground. She also encourage MEC to ensure there is adequate civic education to reach out to displaced people currently living in camps.
Before the start of the Necof meeting, Ansah requested for a minute’s silence for candidates that passed on from the start of the nomination process.
The candidates include Charles Bokosi of UTM, for Lirangwe Ward in Chiradzulu West Constituency; George Kajumo, an independent parliamentary candidate for Blantyre West Constituency, Andrew Mlotha, a PP parliamentary candidate for Nkhotakota Central Constituency and Agnes Penemulungu, a UTM candidate for Lilongwe South Constituency.n