Malawi Electoral Commission (MEC) owes K30 million to about 3 000 police officers in unpaid allowances for providing security during the May 20 2014 Tripartite Elections.
Some of the aggrieved police officers told The Nation they were suffering in silence after several follow-ups proved futile despite meetings between management of MEC and Malawi Police Service (MPS).
Both MEC director of media and public relations Sangwani Mwafulirwa and MPS national spokesperson James Kadadzera confirmed the development in separate interviews.
While not wanting to divulge more details, Kadadzera said: “Most officers across the country have attested to not having received half of their allowances.”
But in a written response, Mwafulirwa said the electoral body found itself in such a predicament after making upfront payment to some law enforcers who, however, did not show up.
He said: “There are approximately 3 000 outstanding honoraria claims for security personnel concerning the 2014 elections. This arose from the fact that security officers are deployed away from their duty stations, hence they were given their honoraria before proceeding to their assigned polling stations.
“Come polling day, many of these security personnel did not report for duties because they were assigned to other duties and they had to be replaced by new personnel.”
Mwafulirwa said the matter was discussed between MEC and MPS to recover the money from officers who got advance payment and pay those who actually worked.
However, Mwafulirwa could not indicate when the commission would honour the payment saying that would happen only “when the matters are resolved”.
MEC engaged 9 750 police officers to provide security at all polling stations but nearly half of them are yet to get their outstanding honoraria entitlements.
Each police officer was receiving K20 000 as an allowance for the provision of their services. However, while some got the whole amount others were either paid half or did not receive anything at all.
One of the police officers who spoke on condition of anonymity said MEC was capitalising on the fact that in police service, unlike other disciplines, the officers cannot publicly protest.
Since 2014, MEC has been struggling to pay several debtors who provided assorted services during the polls and some of them took the commission to court for failing to pay them.
In December 2015, former MEC chief elections officer Willie Kalonga expressed concern that allowances paid to police and Malawi Defence Force (MDF) officers were overburdening the commission and asked government to ban the public officers from receiving the allowances as payment for the job they are employed to do.
Apart from paying allowances, MEC is also charged by MDF for using its vehicles to transfer equipment and voter materials.